Demand for food and drink has changed and consumers now wish for their food to be produced in a sustainable environment. For many the primary consideration is addressing climate change; for others it is about water sustainability; for many more it is about economic sustainability. The only difference is the priority that consumers place on these differing aspects of sustainability.
The issue of sustainability and increasing environmental costs has the potential to undermine the growth potential of the Irish Food and Drink Industry. For the food processing sector, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) stands as a clear example of how measures can rapidly become significant costs on operations and the wider part of sustainability however needs to be addressed. The burning of fossil fuels in processing, refrigeration and transport are primary emitters of CO2. Emission sources from primary agriculture include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Irish agriculture is now challenged with a legal obligation to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 20% by 2020. The primary objective for Irelands Agri-Food Industry must be how to turn this challenge into opportunity by implementing greater efficiencies leading to cost reductions, while enabling sustainable production growth.