14 Nov 2016 | 08.50 am
‘We believe we have a duty of care for the next generation’
Silver Hill Foods in Monaghan is a big fan of Bord Bia's Origin Green programme
14 Nov 2016 | 08.50 am
Origin Green is Ireland’s national food sustainability programme. It is a voluntary programme, led by Bord Bia, that brings together our food industry – from farmers to food producers, retailers and food service operators – with the common goal of sustainable food production.
This programme enables Ireland’s food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and serve local communities more effectively. Crucially, Origin Green is about measuring and improving how we do this on an ongoing basis.
This month, we feature Barry Cullen (pictured), Head of Sales with Silver Hill Foods, the Monaghan-based family business that specialises in all things duck.
What is the background to your business?
Over more than half a century, Silver Hill Farm has grown into a fully integrated duck and duck product company. We have developed the exclusive and unique breed, the Silver Hill duck, renowned for its full flavour and consistent quality.
We precisely control and monitor every aspect of the process, from breeding, egg production, hatching, selection, processing and packaging. Even the feed is 100% natural.
Why did Silver Hill Foods join Origin Green?
We have always believed we have a duty of care for the next generation and we must do all we can to leave the environment in a better place than how we received it. Joining the Origin Green programme was an obvious choice for us, as we were already practising a lot of the things Bord Bia recommended.
What are the key points of your sustainability plan?
Through Origin Green, we have adopted innovative and proactive measures to reduce our impact and include sustainable targets in our production. These include the recycling of our duck feathers to make duvets and pillows; use of bulk offal in the pet food industry; conversion of duck fat into biodiesel and use of slurry as an organic fertiliser.
We purchase 100% renewable energy and we are a member of Repak, the Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) and the Poultry Products Quality Assurance Scheme.
What progress have you made on these plans?
As a founding member of Origin Green, our first sustainability plan ran between 2013 and 2016, taking 2012 as a baseline year. Highlights include surpassing our target of having over 25% of suppliers hold recognised certifications, and surpassing our goal of a 10% reduction of electricity usage in the hatchery per unit of output by the end of 2015 – in fact, we achieved a 19.3% reduction.
We are now on our second Origin Green plan, for 2016-2021, with further actions planned in the areas of raw materials sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability.
How does Origin Green benefit business, the environment and society?
Origin Green is an excellent way for us to communicate our commitment to sustainability to customers and suppliers. Participation has also opened the possibility for us to enter new markets, as our Origin Green message draws the attention of senior buyers around the world.
This programme enables us and others in the Irish food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and serve our local community more effectively.
How do you see sustainability evolving for business?
Customers are specifically asking for our sustainability credentials. While sustainability has always been a feature of Silver Hill Foods’ business, Origin Green has helped to formalise our work, strive for continuous improvement and makes it easier for us to communicate our progress.
For more details on the Origin Green programme, visit origingreen.ie.