US food and pet-food giant Mars has joined forces with Dutch dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina on a sustainable dairy plan.

Called Moo’ving Dairy Forward, the plan is intended to help cut methane as part of Mars’ net-zero by 2050 ambition and a 50% reduction by 2030.

It has also linked up with two other dairy majors, Germany’s DMK Group and Fonterra of New Zealand, on other sustainability initiatives.

The Mars Bar, M&Ms and Snickers confectionery and Whiskas cat-food brands owner said the Moo’ving Dairy Forward plan – to reduce the carbon footprint of its dairy sourcing – will be backed with a $47m investment package over three years.

Its collaboration with FrieslandCampina will result in the establishment of the Mars-FrieslandCampina Sustainable Dairy Development Program – an initiative that will dedicate a group of farms to Mars’ dairy supply.

The scheme is intended to serve as a platform where “new practices and innovative technologies can be refined and scaled-up in a focused and accelerated environment” with an ultimate goal of broader adoption across the entire co-op.

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Mars said it will work with a cohort of industry leaders to implement a host of “meaningful on-farm interventions”, focused on areas such as enteric methane reduction, efficient manure management and sustainable feed production.

Amanda Davies, chief R&D, procurement and sustainability officer at Mars Snacking, said: “Doing our part to keep our planet healthy is an absolute non-negotiable for us at Mars. But our vision for more sustainable dairy will only become a reality with the support and actions of farmers and our suppliers.”

She added: “We’re putting millions of dollars directly back into the pockets of farmers through our contracts to help them make climate-smart changes to the way they farm. Together, I know that we can forge a path that helps address climate change head on and contributes to reshaping our wider industry for a more sustainable future.”

With the same aim, Mars has launched three pilot net-zero dairy farms with Germany’s DMK Group.

The sites will be used to implement and study new science and technology with an ambition to “create a scalable and economically viable pathway to net-zero dairy”. The project is expected to last for five years.

And Mars is partnering with Kiwi dairy business Fonterra to explore sourcing from a seaweed food supplement. A trial is under way to find out if the supplement can help to reduce the quantity of methane cows generate in digesting their food.

Mars updated its net-zero roadmap and set a new 2030 target last September.