Fair Cape: a final exchange
In response to my email in the previous post ("... and Fair Cape responds.), I received the following:
11 March 2011
Thanks for the response.
I would first like to address your contentions that this is not an attack on Fair Cape, but an industry expose. I would like to state at the outset that this is absolutely currently nothing more than an attack on Fair Cape which is totally out of context.
Were this an industry expose, you would FIRST have done your research across the entire industry, then presented your findings within this context. You have NOT done this, you have simply gone after the most transparent operation (as you have admitted it was the only dairy who has given you access) and have left the impression with your readers that Fair Cape is the problem, where, in reality, Fair Cape’s operation, in terms of cow comfort and environmental friendliness is currently without peer in the South African market.
If you look at some of the comments on your blog, this is clearly the case and frankly, you have acted irresponsibly in allowing this impression to be created WITHOUT SO MUCH AS SURVEYING ANY OTHER INDUSTRY PLAYERS.
To call this an industry expose is disingenuous.
As you so eloquently stated below – it is “not enough that this is simply in the planning phase” yet you have printed your findings with nothing more than the intention to survey the rest of the market.
I have no problem with you going after Fair Cape, who currently leads the South African industry in terms of good animal husbandry, however, you MUST then go after them in the context of local, national and international best practice. This you have not done in your rush to print an incendiary article without the proper context.
To say you only went after Fair Cape because they are the “best dairy” is no justification for neglecting to place the South African market in context.
Please don’t get me wrong, we see massive value in having people like you in the industry to ensure that corporates are answerable, however, I hope, as you gain experience and do more ‘investigations’ you learn to present a more holistic view of the actual circumstances.
That said, I will answer your questions below.
I can’t give you an estimated period of time in a year when the cows graze, as it is totally dependent on the weather and the pastures. Once cows become uncomfortable in the heat or the grass dies, as it does in summer in Cape Town, they are then housed in the temperature reducing enclosures. These are not stalls at all, they are massive open barns with inside and outside sections which allow the cows full access to the indoors or outdoors.
The new milk labels have been printed and are currently going into the market – the products will be in the market with the new labels by end-March
Please be careful with your allegations regarding ‘misleading images’ as you have no basis for these. With regard to dirty cows –please note that the image you are creating of the dirty cows is a misnomer.
Our cows get milked 3 times a day.
There is a shower built onto the milking system which gives the cows a shower each time they are milked, so, while there are certainly dirty cows on the farm – as there are on any dairy farm – specifically during the winter when it is wet, they are cleaned on a consistent basis 3 times a day. Given the daily showers, when it is not wet (the vast majority of the year) the cows are always clean. Pictures on the website illustrate the average situation on the Fair Cape Farm.
As mentioned, Fair Cape changed its strategy towards the end of last year where we decided that The Fair Cape Free Range brand reflected too heavily on the cow comfort, and not enough on the other aspects of the environmental friendliness of our milk production. We are therefore in the process of moving away from the brand and towards another brand which will illustrate not only the cow comfort aspect of our band, but also the environmental and carbon footprint angles.
As you can appreciate I cannot furnish the details of this new brand as it is proprietary information prior to its launch, however, I am certain you will be suitably impressed once it is launched.
Finally, regarding the carbon footprint project:
We have had our carbon footprint tested and it will be appearing on all our milk bottles in the near future. We are also far down the line in the planning stages of installing a bio-digestive plant on our farm.
This plant will take the waste streams from the milk production and processing and capture the methane to create eco-friendly energy and ensure that Fair Cape does its bit to ensure that we help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and thereby reduce global warming.
Whilst this project is undertaken at a substantial capital cost to Fair Cape, we are undertaking it with the stated mission to produce the milk with the lowest carbon footprint in South Africa.
A capital project of this nature is quite an undertaking, however, we will, of course, keep our consumers and the media informed of our progress
11 March 2011
Although I am disappointed that Fair Cape has steered clear of answering the questions I asked in my previous post, I want to bring this to a close and move on. I made every effort to relay only objective information, resulting from what I saw on the farm and from what I was told by Fair Cape representatives. Although I was taken aback by what I saw, this is primarily because I was misled by the labeling of their dairy products. I am nonetheless impressed by the efforts that Fair Cape continues to make to be the industry leaders in animal welfare and environmental responsibility.