• Asparagopsis algae. Source: Fonterra
    Asparagopsis algae. Source: Fonterra

Fonterra is working with seaweed company Sea Forest to expand its on-farm trials to quantify the methane reducing potential of Asparagopsis seaweed.

Fonterra general manager of sustainability APAC Jack Holden says Fonterra’s grass-fed farming model makes the company one of the most carbon efficient producers of dairy in the world.

“However, we have an aspiration to be net zero by 2050 and are investing in R&D and partnerships to help find a solution to reducing methane emissions,” said Holden.

CSIRO research has shown that Asparagopsis seaweed has the potential to reduce emissions by over 80 per cent in laboratory trials, and while Fonterra understands the reductions will vary out of the lab, all reductions count.

“As with all methane solutions we’re trialling, what we need to find out is whether we can use this supplement in a way that is safe for cows, safe for consumers and to ensure that there is no impact on milk taste or quality,” says Jack Holden.

Over the past two years, 900 dairy cows on a farm in Australia have been fed small amounts of the seaweed supplement and the results have been promising. Fonterra is now expanding the trial across three additional farms to test the supplement’s application at a commercial-scale.

This will include understanding the practicalities of using the seaweed supplement as part of normal farming operations.

“If the trial proves successful, we have agreed with Sea Forest that Fonterra farmers will have first access to the commercial Asparagopsis solution,” said Holden.

Sea Forest CEO and founder Sam Elsom says last year the company bought an additional 30 hectare farm as it increases its production of the seaweed supplement.Sam Elsom. Source: Fonterra

“Asparagopsis is a common seaweed native to the waters of Tasmania and New Zealand, and we’re the first in the world to cultivate it at a commercial scale through both marine and land-based aquaculture.

“We needed a food industry partner to help us take this to a commercial scale, and we partnered with Fonterra because of its commitment to sustainability and innovation.

“We’re looking forward to working with Fonterra on the next phase, and although we’re still in trial phases, we believe this has potential,” said Elsom.

Sea Forest is also working with Australia’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) on a methane reduction pilot program. 

In September, it received $675,000 from the Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre towards its $4.5 million project to develop efficient production facilities and optimal cultivation methods.

Packaging News

In the first year of PKN’s Women in Packaging Awards programme, industry has stepped up with meaning. The response has been phenomenal, and the judges had their work cut out for them selecting the finalists from a competitive field of high-calibre nominees.

At The Hive Awards in Sydney today, the Best Packaging category was won by Don Smallgoods, part of George Weston Foods, for its resealable flow wrap pack for sandwich fillers and other smallgoods. This innovative packaging is a departure from the conventional thermoformed packs and addresses consumer demands for better functionality, sustainability, and product visibility.

Applications for the 2024 APCO Annual Awards are now open, and are open to all of industry to apply.