Following the food market trends, especially regarding how food is produced, MEQ has conducted pioneer certification works in its units. The enterprise focuses, principles approaching: food quality, pragmatism, ethics, excellence and social environmental responsibility. Thus, ethics quality, which brings, animal and people welfare, respect to the environment and the food consumers, is a must for any of the actions taken in any of MEQs units.
Regarding certifications, three of them can be highlighted: ISO 14000, 26000 and 45000, focusing on social and environmental issues; and the international “certified humane” certification that approaches animal welfare and controlled by the Certified Humane enterprise.
The farm was the first Latin American milk operation to obtain the “certified humane” certification in 2015. Such certification is equivalent to Freedom Foods from RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), traditionally known in Europe. Obtaining the ISOs certifications by the end of 2019 is the company´s final goal regarding milk production and other ISOs regarding product quality, transparency and environmetal issues will be obtained for the dairy industry.
The final goal regarding the company´s environmental issues is monitoring it´s “environmental efficiency” by measuring the water, carbon and nitrogen footprints in the milk and, at last, dairy production. Footprints represent the amount of a natural resource that is used from the beginning to the end of the productive process. Together with Professors Gustavo Almeida- Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar); John Hermansen- Aarhus University (DK), and Julio Palhares (Embrapa São Carlos) the farm will carry on PhD studies approaching this subject of interest.
New partnerships were developed with Universities to improve milk quality and dairy business management. Such include Professors: Marcia Barcellos- Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) along with Matheus Delavald, a masters student at UFRGS (advised by Marcia Barcellos) Together, these multidisciplinary team had researched about high value added vertically integrated dairy production. Furthermore the company has begun in 2018 a part of the College Business Incubator system in the UNIVATES University at Lajeado, Rio Grande do sul.
MEQ tries to follow and create trends in the food market, thus strongly believing that the philosophy behind a food production system is becoming more important than the food itself and transparency in such a market is crucial for success. In the international dairy Market many examples already exist, both in Latin America as in Europe. Arla Foods “Green Production” project, focusing on environmental issues and animal welfare and Anne Flysjӧ´s PhD thesis, under Professor John Hermansen´s advisory, approaching the carbon footprint the Arla’s dairy products is one of them. In Uruguay, Conaprole Cooperative is developing a project approaching clean energy in dairy farms. In both countries, as many others, setting good examples of production philosophy is what MEQ fights for. Although in the Brazilian agribusiness, areas such as cash crop and livestock production are already concerned with the footprint approach, in the dairy industry it is still not a priority. Therefore, adjustments are required in the methods and procedures for field trials and the company under Brazilian tropical conditions.
Yet, results under such conditions may differ from those already existing and can become an interesting tool for the Brazilian dairy segment. MEQ, through it´s pilot unit, the São Bento Farm, seeks answering the main question, as highlighted by Professor Hoesktra (University of Twente- Netherlands), coming from consumers regarding animal products “how environmentally intensive is a product for sale? How is such product related to natural resource pollution and/or depletion?” MEQ´s footprint projects in the dairy chain are pioneering in the Latin American scope and the enterprise hopes that, the data gathered up to 2020, can improve milk and dairy production environmental efficiency and, possibly, become a benchmarking tool for other players in the dairy market.