April is a month dedicated to Mother Earth, and what better way to celebrate her than through time-tested sustainability strategies? Pair those strategies with quite a bit of cheesemaking prowess and the result is Beemster Cheese, a high-quality specialty cheese producer whose legacy is a clear demonstration of its commitment to the health of our planet.
“Beemster is a farmer-owned cooperative that was founded in 1901, but our recipes and techniques come from long before then,” Marcel Vantuyn, Managing Director, says. “Even as we grow and modernize, we keep some traditional techniques that cannot be replaced, like hand-stirring the curds, hand-polishing each wheel, and natural, slow aging on wooden planks.”
Beemster has achieved key milestones while upholding these traditions, including gaining climate-neutral certification in 2020. By 2030, the company will be climate positive.
“We have an auditing program called Caring Dairy that ensures happy cows, happy farmers, and a happy planet,” Marcel shares with me. “Our cooperative has been instrumental in the change in grazing and animal welfare standards in Holland. We have also planted miles of a 'bee corridor' from our dairy through farms, which grows every year and is full of native wildflowers and plants that foster bees and other important pollinators.”
The Beemster farms do not till the land where the cows graze, thereby sequestering more carbon.
Also advancing its sustainability strategies, the farmer-owned cooperative installs clean, renewable energy through wind and solar, which powers not only the farms, but feeds the local community’s electricity supply with the surplus energy that is generated.
“Sustainability and animal welfare are at the heart of everything we do,” Marcel assures, explaining that the cooperative’s family farms are small so that the herds remain healthy and stress-free. “These farms preserve, protect, and foster biodiversity while supporting a healthy lifestyle for the herds. The cows’ main diet is grass. Any supplemental feed is certified Non-GMO, and we never administer artificial hormones.”
The cooperative has partnered with a milk transport firm, employing one of the first-ever fully electric milk transport trucks. The trucks will transport milk from the farms to the dairy and will be charged at the dairy using green, renewable energy. Milk transport trucks must idle while transferring milk from the farm to the tanker. The new fully electric truck does not, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.
Further distinguishing its unique portfolio, Beemster has Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status on its North Holland Gouda, a clear signal to consumers of both the quality and traditions of this beloved brand.
For more updates on the supplier’s sustainability efforts and cheesemaking practices, stick around with DMN.