Having increasingly integrated issues pertaining to the environment and personal safety, La Route Du Lait consitutes a strong foundation on which to build an initiative for the group’s sustainable development.
The goal : to guarantee the products’ origin and their modes of production To meet the consumers’ demand in terms of food safety and respect for the environment and people, dairy producers and teams from the cooperative’s services are taking necessary measures.La Route Du Lait, as a quality management system from the farm to the factory, constitutes a true initiative towards progress for everyone, and allows for continuous improvement, with respect to customers’ demand, consumers in particular.Certification : a standard testified by an independent bodyTrue to their cooperative commitments, dairy producers have opted for transparency. AFNOR Certification, an independent certifying body, has been making sure every year since 2000 that commitments with respect to the AFNOR NF V01 007 standard have been in fact complied with. Because it is concurrent with the ISO 9001 certification process, to which the ISO 22 000 certification (specifically for food safety) will be added by March 2011 and implemented in manufacturing sites, this certification is part of a wider approach to guarantee quality from the farm to the end product.
3000+ audits are carried out every year by technical support teams from the cooperative to assess the practices and commitments of producers.The audits focus on compliance with regulations, as well as with the “Charter for Good Practices in Breeding”, in addition to the cooperation’s specific standards.
1 – Quality, Composition and Regularity Bacterial quality of the milk and its composition is what constitutes the basis for payment of the milk to producers. The regular supply of quality milk is evaluated from test results obtained by inter-professional laboratories. On the other hand, one of the main economical issue for the cooperative is the regular supply of milk, all year round. Test are run on samples taken from each step, from the producer’s tank to the end product.2 – Accessing the milk factory After milking, the milk is stored at a temperature below 4°C in a well maintained tank.The factory layout, its cleanliness, and maintenance is subject to inspection.Milk must be collected in optimal conditions, the factory must be readily accessible.3 – Adapted milking Twice a day (usually), milking must be carried out in optimal conditions of comfort and security, for the cattle as well as for the staff.An annual licensed inspection checks the milking machines.After each use, the entire milking equipment is thoroughly washed using appropriate sanitary products.The premises are well designed, easy to clean, with good lighting conditions, improving accessibility and security for the cows and the personnel.4 – Cow well-being and feeding Nothing can replace the eye of the breeder. He knows his cows and their habits, and always makes sure they are well fed, healthy and well taken-care of. The audit makes sure that each animal is correctly identified, that the origin and quality of their food is monitored, and that the premises are adequate.Special care is given to heifers and calves, who represent the future of the farm.5 – Health guarantees Healthy cows are required for quality milk ! This is the reason why the breeder’s practices concerning cattle health are monitored during the audit.In case there is a problem, the breeder calls a veterinarian and administers an appropriate dose of medicine. Treatments given to each cow are recorded in a health log. 6 – Respect for the environment One of the producers’ commitment is to respect the environment, beginning with the integration of the farm in the landscape. Care is given to the maintenance and the embellishment of the farms’ surroundings.The preservation of water and soil is ensured by an appropriate use of breeding effluents. Waste treatment is an important issue that is addressed during the audit. Potential issues such as noise and smells are continuously monitored.Breeders are encouraged to keep a close watch on water and energy consumption.7 – SupportThe Audit gives a good picture of the current state of a farm, but even closer attention is given to preventive and improvement actions.A the end of every audit, a plan of action is drafted by both the producer and the consultant. The focus is placed on the quality of the milk, animal health, security and the environment.The dairy consultant is the true field-manager. He refers the producer to the most appropriate services and consulting available on technical or business subjects, and makes sure that the commitments made by the breeder are kept.
Progress in 3 steps
Every three years, an audit is conducted in each farm. At the end of the audit, a “plan of action” written by both the breeder and his advisor will make it possible to fulfill the producer’s commitment to go from step 1 to step 3.
Step 1: This is the foundation. It refers to the national initiative, the « “Charter for Good Practices in Breeding”, which is seen by the entire dairy sector as the key reference on how to best raise cattle. Step 2: Sodiaal’s added value, helping producers to always be one step ahead, and offer customers diversified products. Step 3: This is the preparation for the future. Its purpose is to inform breeders on themes that will be very important in the future (computerization, energy-saving, etc.)
10 853 producers involved in La Route Du Lait in 2012which represents 89 % of all producers and 80 % of the total volume handled by Sodiaal60 % of producers in step 2 and 3 of La Route Du Lait