CONO Cheesemakers (Kaasmakers) investing in sustainable oil palm production

CONO Cheesemakers, the company behind Beemster cheese, and Solidaridad, in collaboration with Nature & Environment (in Dutch: Stichting Natuur & Milieu) are starting a cooperation to invest in sustainable production of palm oil. Palm kernel expeller, oil palm by-products, are an important part of the concentrate of cows. CONO is the first Dutch company to invest in the sustainability of palm products for livestock feed. The company has started a new step in the sustainability program Caring Dairy. This program focuses on the sustainability of the food chain from feed to cheese. Earlier, the organizations started a cooperation on promotion of sustainability of soy for feed. CONO Kaasmakers now adds a new step in supporting small-scale oil palm growers in Ghana and Malaysia to switch to certified sustainable cultivation of oil palms. This process is guided by Solidaridad and its local partners. The approximately 500 farmers of the dairy cooperative make a real contribution to sustainable production of concentrates. Nature and Environment Foundation and Caring Dairy partner Ben & Jerry's support this initiative wholeheartedly.

Importance of sustainable palm cultivation

The cows' diet consists mostly of grass and supplemented with concentrates. The concentrate for cows contains five to eight percent of soymeal and approximately 10% of palm kernal flakes or palm kernel expeller. Palm kernel flakes are a by-product produced during the production of palmoil. The importance of the sustainability of oilpalm cultivation is large. The expansion of oil palm production is mainly in Southeast Asia, coupled with deforestation and environmental problems. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has developed a global standard for socially and environmentally sustainable palm oil. From this new partnership small scale producers in Sarawak (North Borneo, Malaysia) and Ghana will be supported who supply palm kernel to RSPO-certified plantations. These farmers are mostly illiterate and lack the knowledge and support to sustainable production. Worldwide, small-scale oil palm growers accounted for about 30% of production.

Training in environmentally friendly production

With new knowledge and skills, farmers can grow greener. The program results in a higher yield per hectare and ensure good working conditions for workers. Those growers together produce the quantity of palm kernel flakes that is in the feed for the Beemster cows and Ben & Jerry. In both countries small-scale farmers grow food crops in addition to growing oil palm oil for food and income. With the support of CONO Kaasmakers Solidaridad organizes the coming years training in environmentally friendly production and improved agricultural practices. Growers must make responsible use of pesticides and should not cut wood. The higher productivity reduces the need for expansion.

Gert van der Bijl, Program Manager Agricultural Commodities at Solidaridad: "We are pleased that together with a company that produces a typical Dutch product can contribute to improved production conditions of farmers outside the Netherlands. Not only do we help them to find a better life, yet we have spared the environment. A beautiful two-fold objective with CONO Kaasmakers to work on. "

"Our motto Happy Earth Happy Happy cows farmers and we fully back this project. CONO works not only with its own farmers to sustainable production. CONO feels responsible for the sustainable growing of the concentrates. Support to farmers who produce oil palm, therefore seals perfectly with Caring Dairy, "says Catharinus Wierda, Sustainability Manager at CONO Kaasmakers.

Environmentally friendly soy

Since May 2009 CONO Cheesemakers participates in Soy Producer Support Initiative (SOYPSI), an international program for environmentally friendly soy cultivation. Local soybean growers get help with investment in sustainable cultivation practices and the certification.

CONO Kaasmakers

CONO Kaasmakers, the cooperative behind Beemster cheese, aims to be the best and most sustainable cheese. The company introduced as the first in Europe in 2002 premiums for farmers who graze their cows outside. Since 2008, the company cooperates with ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's in the sustainability program Caring Dairy. To make the chain sustainable from cow to cheese. She puts on this chain partners, including farmers and transporters. The sustainability program Caring Dairy stands for Happy cows, Happy farmers and a Happy Earth. Within Caring Dairy farmers themselves decide how their own dairy farms can become sustainable. It focuses on five key aspects for Dutch dairy farming: economics, landscape, labor, energy and welfare. The five hundred farmers of the cooperative deliver each year 315 million kg milk. CONO Kaasmakers each year makes 28 million kg of cheese.


Solidaridad since 1969 fights poverty in developing countries by working on sustainable and fair trade work in the production of e.g. cocoa, coffee, bananas, cotton, palm oil, soya and sugar. Solidaridad motivates companies to work with and support sustainable producers in developing countries. This is accomplished by offering training in sustainable and more efficient production techniques, helping them set up cooperatives and by ensuring that a fair price for their products. This work among workers better working conditions, less use of hazardous chemicals and agricultural land and water more efficiently deployed. Solidaridad has grown into an international network with offices in Utrecht and eight regional offices in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Society for Nature & Environment

The Foundation for Nature and Environment (Stichting Natuur & Milieu in Dutch)is working on a beautiful landscape, a rich nature and a healthy environment. This independent organization advocates for governments, business and politics for sustainable solutions for wildlife and environmental problems. The organization advises organizations, creates collaboration, and if necessary action. Foundation for Nature and Environment adviser last few years of Beemster.