Driving a climate-friendly future for red meat supply chains
Transitioning to climate-friendly meat creates many opportunities for stakeholders in red meat supply chains, and industry players will be key in driving this future, says new industry report.
The newly-released Unlocking Climate-Friendly Meat; Supply Chain Initiatives Will Be Key report suggests that the trend towards climate-friendly meat will also offer opportunity for meat industry players, including those in Australia.
The study proposes a market-based approach towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the industry, but also notes that incentives are required to stimulate the change.
Rabobank senior animal protein analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said that one obvious incentive is price premiums for producers, although this would be limited.
“While sustainability ranks highly amongst a growing number of consumers, they don’t necessarily want to pay higher prices for the benefit,” said Gidley-Baird.
He also noted that surveys conducted by Meat & Livestock Australia show that, when it comes to the actual purchase, the most common drivers for protein choice are freshness, value, and ease of preparation.
However, Gidley-Baird also listed other potential opportunities that lie in productivity gains, generation of carbon credits, plus access to markets and capital.
The report claims that as community demand for better environmental outcomes continues to gain momentum both globally and locally, opportunities exist for red meat supply chain stakeholders to implement programs aimed at reducing (GHG) while retaining consumer trust and promoting social acceptance.
With opportunities, however, come certain challenges that need to be addressed first.
Gidley-Baird believes that the greatest challenge for the red meat supply chain is in measuring livestock GHG emissions in a broadscale approach, which is complicated by the diversity of operations and production systems, the interactivity with the landscape, the whole of life-cycle consideration, lack of data and harmonisation of methodologies.
“Without the ability to easily, accurately and consistently measure emissions, it makes it difficult for broad based policy instruments to be applied, which is another reason why we believe a market-based approach is more likely to lead change,” he said.
He proposed that instead of having to measure on-farm emissions, livestock owners could participate in a dedicated supply chain with a program that uses a technology or process that has demonstrated emission benefits.
Another challenge that was emphasized was bringing the two ends of the red meat supply chain together.
“In the red meat supply chain, the bulk of the emissions occur at the production end of the supply chain, yet it is society – in this case consumers – that represent one of the key proponents for emissions reductions,” he said.
Communicating emission reductions through the supply chain was essential to connect the two ends of the supply chain, and required either the use of a trusted program or brand, or the measurement and reporting of emissions.
All in all, this market-based approach is poised to generate results quickly, even entirely possible for supply chains to implement changes in the next two to three years.