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'Sustainability Has Always Been Central To What We Do'

22 October 2018

Today, we speak with David O’Flynn, Group Head of CSR & Sustainability at Dawn Meats. As a founding member of Origin Green, Dawn Meats recognised that membership complemented what it was already doing, whilst adding additional credibility.

What is the background to your business?

Dawn Meats was established in Co. Waterford in 1980 and it has grown to a business with over €2 billion in annual revenue, employing 7,000 staff in eight countries.

Dawn Meats is the supplier of choice to a range of leading supermarket, food service and restaurant businesses, exporting to more than 50 countries. As a family-owned business, Dawn Meats remains true to its farming heritage, through the close relationships it has forged with over 20,000 Irish farmers, from whom the company sources grass-fed cattle and lamb for processing at its Irish processing plants.

Why did Dawn Meats join Origin Green?

Sustainability has always been central to what we do. Dawn Meats was running programmes and driving change before it was ever recognised under the umbrella of sustainability.

We published our first formal strategy in 2009, and this strategy has since been developed and reviewed annually, as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.

Origin Green adds credibility through independent oversight and the audit process.

What are the key points of your sustainability plan?

Our sustainability strategy is built across five pillars, and each pillar has a sub-element. For example, under sustainable sourcing we have objectives and targets around livestock, energy, packaging and the core supply of indirect materials.

For food safety, health and nutrition, we have set targets around innovation, communication and instilling a quality culture.

What progress have you made on these plans?

Since submitting our first verified Origin Green plan six years ago, we have twice revised upwards our water, energy and emission intensity-reduction targets.

We have invested heavily in support systems for our people and are formalising our approach to diversity and inclusion. We have also updated our policy framework and enhanced our monitoring and verification processes.

All of this resulted in Dawn Meats becoming the first food manufacturing business to receive BITCI’s Business Working Responsibly Mark, and winning the Bord Bia sustainability award in 2017.

How does Origin Green benefit business, the environment and society?

Origin Green encourages companies to raise their ambitions and set targets across the pillars of sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and social sustainability.

This in turn has broader benefits for society, in terms of a cleaner environment, healthier and safer food, community engagement and more stable employment. Businesses benefit from the external accreditation and auditing, enabling members to credibly report on progress.

How do you see sustainability evolving for business?

Climate change and market forces raise the importance of supply chain sustainability and the need to eliminate waste. Sustainable people management will become more critical as the nature of work and working life evolves, while greater collaboration will become the norm, as the business challenges we take on grow in scale and complexity.

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