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Introducing our Palm free White Milk

As our name delightfully hints we're on a journey … travelling down the Road to bring you the very best dairy we can, and quite simply milk the way it should be.  We don’t claim to have all  the answers yet, but we know you are wanting a brand that doesn't shy away from having the hard conversations, and a brand that isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo in order to bring you dairy produced with the ethical and sustainability practices you would expect from Lewis Road Creamery. 

You may recall that Lewis Road Creamery was the first milk brand to bring you 100% recycled bottles made from rPET, that are also100% recyclable.  As buyers of our milk products you’ve helped drive the success of our rPET ambition.  Other brands have opted to follow suit, but some still only use 30% recycled plastic.  Now we're inspiring change within the industry again.  This time with our White Milk Range available throughout supermarkets in New Zealand.  
Thinking globally, and with sustainability and bio-diversity in mind, our White Milk Range  comes from cows that are not fed Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE), a by-product of the palm oil industry.   As it happens, New Zealand is the world’s largest importer of PKE, where it’s used as a feed to supplement cows’ diets[1].   It’s a feed that’s cheap to purchase, and cows love to eat it, which means it helps farmers boost their milk production.  
Even though PKE is a by-product of the palm oil industry, we here at Lewis Road Creamery have chosen to start our journey to farm without it and take a stand against the negative environmental impact of palm oil production. New Zealand has an abundance of grass and other forage crops so we prefer to use locally grown feed.  We have carefully selected Lewis Road’s white milk to come from a handful of farms that do not feed their cows PKE and where the cows spend their time out on pastures all year round.   We think this makes our milk taste better ... after all we eat what our food eats, so this just isn’t just an ethical issue, important as that is, but a flavour consideration as well.
There have also been studies undertaken showing that palm oil maybe detrimental to human health[2] [3].
Understanding the complexities around our food chain has been an interesting project and it’s certainly opened our eyes up. 
A few facts:  
Firstly, let’s talk about Palm Oil.   What is it and where is it found?

  •  Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the reddish pulp of the fruit of the Elaeis, commonly known as the oil palm.
  • Native to Africa, oil palm is now found in abundance only within 8-10 degrees North and South of the equator, living in humid tropical conditions mainly around Asia.
  • Indonesia and Malaysia together make up over 85% of the global supply but there are around 42 other countries that also product palm oil.



What food is Palm Oil found in?
According to Consumer NZ, around 50% of all processed food found in supermarkets in New Zealand contains palm oil[4].  Because of its functionality it can be found in anything from personal care products to ice cream (though of course not Lewis Road Creamery’s) where it is often just labelled as “vegetable oil”- and demand is vastly increasing due to a pricing squeeze on healthier alternative ingredients such as butter, ghee or olive oil.
Auckland Zoo has developed a handy guide to help you detect palm oil in your food when shopping[5], so use your wallet wisely.
Thinking back to our Chocolate Milk launch, we all know what happens with demand - it increases supply.   In this case the demand for palm oil is leading to plantations expanding into virgin rainforest areas critically needed for the world to breathe.  Not just for the planet to breathe, but to promote biodiversity rather than compromising it by displacing native animals, plants and insects. As The Economist magazine has observed, loss of biodiversity is potentially a bigger threat to life on this planet than even climate change[6]. In New Zealand, we all know that Kiwis see native biodiversity as key to our own national identity.  
So should we care about others?  At Lewis Road Creamery, we think we should.  Our full supply chain is important to us – think of it as our whakapapa, if you like.  We believe our values must embrace the whole of our production process, from the cows and what they feed on, to the product that makes its way into your hands.

Where does PKE come into it?
PKE makes the whole value chain of palm oil more valuable.  New Zealand is implicated in this, even if by default.  Farmers may suggest PKE is just a by-product, but it’s a by-product that increases the demand that in turn fuels the palm oil industry to expand. 
Encroachment into rainforest areas displaces a harmonious ecosystem and substitutes it for a monoculture void of multi species some to near-extinction perhaps. For example, In Malaysia, studies have shown a decrease in bird species by over 70% and butterfly species by around 80%.[7] Palm production has also been implicated as one of the leading threats to the Borneo Orang-utan (with only 40,000-70,000 left in the wild[8]) and the Sumatran Tiger’s (with possibly less than 500 left in the wild[9]) species survival. 
PKE is the product produced after palm oil has been extracted from the oil palm fruit flesh, leaving the solid kernel which is then mashed, dried and powdered to make PKE.
Of course by not using PKE on our supplying farms, not only are we producing better dairy products and protecting biodiversity overseas, we are also supporting local farmers who grow any additional feed required, and reduces our carbon footprint.

How much PKE is imported into New Zealand?  Statistics NZ calculates it at around 1.9 million tonnes in 2020.  New Zealand is the country that imports the most PKE in the world.
Looking Globally
At the November 2021 global climate talks in Glasgow, 100 countries representing 85% of the world’s forests have signed the Declaration on Forest and Land Use.  Crucial to keeping global warming targets, New Zealand is but one of these, committed to pledging a halt and reverse of deforestation by 2030.
Journey to sustainability 
Being little guys in the milk industry, Lewis Road Creamery is proud to have a bold and uncompromising parent in Southern Pastures, who is advancing its own boundaries around sustainable farming via a unique independent 3rd party certified suite of ethical practices called “10 Star Certified Values”.  You’ll see this mark on a new butter hitting the stores soon.
Just like investment vehicles who are looking at the whole chain and not investing in companies that support oil and gas exploration, etc, a new breed of shopper is emerging. A shopper that looks past the product at the integrity, and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) of the company, the parent and all associations. 
Given this transparent emphasis on “values”, we thought it would be the perfect time to take you behind the scenes of Lewis Road Creamery at Southern Pastures the farming parent company.
Southern Pastures is solely managed in New Zealand by a bunch of Kiwis who started the company over 12 years ago, with their own money and money from superannuation (or pension) funds, with a focus on ethical investing. Enabling and surrounding them is an immensely passionate team, travelling single-mindedly towards true farming sustainability. 
We all know that walking the talk is vital - words on their own are empty. Finding real-life ways to pull science into the process makes for a robust and cutting edge farming practice that aims to become climate neutral and then ultimately climate positive. Providing this legacy to future generations is a key driver for the Southern Pastures team.
Southern Pastures:

  • is the first to gain a farming sustainability-linked loan from a bank in Australasia (BNZ) for what we’re already doing to save the planet, coupled with metrics demonstrating how we intend to further reduce dairy’s impact on the land and climate.
  • is often held up as a poster child for sustainability practices and farming both in New Zealand and globally by Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), FAIRR (representing $45 trillion in assets), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and BNZ.
  • has been invited to speak about sustainability issues as a global thought leader on the international news channel CBS.
  • is the only NZ signatory to the antibiotic stewardship charter.
  • has planted riparian corridors of native flora to encourage biodiversity, shelter, habitats and natural ecosystem regeneration.
  • is protecting through Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII) 18.2 hectares of native bush regeneration. An additional 595 hectares of native bushland areas have also been preserved.
  • is developing wetlands by segregating low lying areas, clearing willow, pines and other invasive species, and trapping pests to allow for indigenous flora and fauna to flourish.
  • is increasing soil and carbon retention on its own farms by planting multi species pastures, introducing earth worms, importing dung beetles, mitigating water use, rotational grazing and reducing stocking rates.
Being PKE free with our White Milk Range is a bold move on our part and we would love your support so we know we’re on the right track.  Find our White Milk Range “with values” in your local chiller.  Jersey & Organic in Homogenised, Non Homogenised, or Light along with tummy tamers A2 Protein and Lactose free ... there’s one especially tailored to you so take your pick and enjoy!
We’re also working hard to bring you more Lewis Road Creamery products that contain milk from cows that haven’t been fed Palm Kernel Expeller – PKE.
*Source:  2020 Statistics New Zealand.  230660
[1] https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/126884799/green-party-calls-on-government-to-ban-palm-oil-byproducts
[2] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/palm-oil-indias-most-consumed-oil-can-cause-heart-disease/photostory/86250180.cms
[3] https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/palm-oil-linked-to-increased-cancer-risk-study-finds/ESOMTHA6WFYBVXG33GYSEW4WWY/
 [5] https://rfacdn.nz/zoo/assets/media/palm-oil-wallet-card.pdf
[6] https://www.economist.com/technology-quarterly/2021/06/15/loss-of-biodiversity-poses-as-great-a-risk-to-humanity-as-climate-change
[7] Koh, L.P. and Wilcove, D.S. (2008) Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Conservation Letters, 1, 60-64
 [8] Koh, L.P. and Wilcove, D.S. (2008) Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Conservation Letters, 1, 60-64
 [9] Linkie, M., Wibisono, H. T., Martyr, D. J., & Sunarto, S. (2008). Panthera tigris sp. sumatrae. In IUCN 2012 (Ed.), IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Vol. 2012.2)