Over the next five years Arla Foods, the UK’s largest dairy company, is targeting 50% growth across its organic dairy business, from retail to foodservice.

The growth would see Arla’s annual organic milk output go from 180 to 270 million litres.

The news comes as the organic food sector celebrates its position as one of the strongest grocery categories from the past 12 months, with sales up by 9.4% compared to 5.6% for non-organic equivalents.

Arla’s new Organic 2.0 standards, applicable to organic farmers from January, set out specific criteria and ‘add even more value to the organic dairy products’, says the brand, which is ‘taking a clear stance’ in four key areas: soil health, climate impact, animal welfare and biodiversity.

Under the new terms, Arla’s organic farmers will be required to convert to 100% green electricity from renewable sources, and by 2028 must achieve a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions per kilo of milk.

Liz Bowles, associate director of farming and land at Soil Association Exchange, reacts: “We are very excited that Arla are taking these initiatives to further support and improve organic dairy in the UK as they target the growth of the category. The organic market continues to grow and outperform non-organic as shoppers increasingly make choices that are both good for them and for the planet, and retailers increasingly build and support organic as an answer to the climate crisis. Organic dairy is the largest category across organic and an important first step for shoppers.

“Following the principles of organic production, these standards take organic dairy beyond the requirements of the Soil Association Organic Standards by asking farmers to look at areas including energy usage and carbon reduction, something that many organic farmers already do. Organic farmers are leading the way in many of these practices, and it is great to see Arla recognizing and supporting this.

“As founding members of Soil Association Exchange it is great to see Arla driving forward environmental standards. The Exchange is a new service to help all UK farmers to measure and improve the ecological health of their farm and get financially rewarded in the process.”

Image: Arla Foods