Sustainability of milk production in the Netherlands - A comparison between raw organic, pasteurised organic and conventional milk

Asselt, E.D. van; Capuano, E.; Fels-Klerx, H.J. van der


Consumer preferences are changing, resulting in an increased demand for both organic milk and raw milk due to their perceived higher nutritional value and positive contribution to animal welfare. To compare the advantages and disadvantages of these products with conventional pasteurised milk, a sustainability assessment was performed incorporating social, environmental and economic factors. The assessment showed that raw organic milk gave the highest overall sustainability score. This is due to, for example, a high score for animal welfare and a high score for the environmental factors due to the omission of the pasteurisation step compared with conventional milk. The latter may pose human health risks due to the possible presence of pathogens in raw milk. As the approach followed is transparent, it allows policy makers to discuss the outcome of the sustainability assessment both with stakeholders and the general public, which will facilitate the decision making process.