Thursday, April 25, 2024

SFF launches zero carbon Angus beef

Neal Wallace
The country’s largest meat processor says it is walking the talk on sustainability by launching zero carbon Angus beef, phasing out coal use and committing to a regenerative agriculture future.
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Silver Fern Farms (SFF) co-chair Rob Hewett says the initiatives will stretch the company but are part of its vision to be “the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company”.

“Silver Fern Farms is committed to supporting our farmers to contribute to these goals, through knowledge transfer and market-led incentives,” Hewett said.

“This is because we believe there is great opportunity to leverage this leadership position in our markets via our strong brand and customer partnerships.”

Chief executive Simon Limmer says after working with AgResearch and Toitū Envirocare to complete a lifecycle assessment of its 100% Angus beef, it will later this year launch Toitū Net Carbon Zero Certified Beef into the US market.

That assessment required measuring the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from production, shipping and consuming a kilogram of 100% Angus beef in the US, from which SFF has worked with its Angus programme suppliers to measure, report and reduce emissions.

Limmer says emissions from the beef will be accounted for by carbon removals by vegetation on the supplier farms.

“Shareholder-suppliers taking part in this programme will be rewarded for producing a premium-quality beef product with attributes the market desires and will be recognised for the stewardship role that they have played by managing and protecting woody vegetation on their own farms,” Limmer said.

He says SFF has the financial strength to embark on these projects which will embed the sustainability promise in its brand.

Other net carbon zero certified meat products will follow.

“Consumer concerns are increasing with respect to soil health, emissions, biodiversity, agricultural intensity, water quality, and the resilience and sustainability of the current food system,” he said.

“There is only one direction of travel for our industry and SFF wants to be out the front leading.”

SFF will partner with Lincoln University and Duke University (US) to research regenerative farming practices, red meat eating quality and optimal human nutrition outcomes.

It will also support a group of suppliers to complete the Savory Institute’s ‘Land to Market’ Accreditation, a leading accreditation body for regenerative agriculture.

Limmer describes regenerative agriculture as a broad range of land-use practices, which focus on regenerating topsoil, while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity and respecting animal welfare.

“These practices can be adopted over time, to ultimately produce nutrient-dense food with a lower environmental impact and positive social outcomes,” he said.

“It is a holistic approach to farming that focuses on outcomes measurement and continuous improvement rather than inputs.”

This year SFF will invest in co-funded projects with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to halve its coal consumption at its processing plants by 2023 and cut it by two-thirds by 2025.

Total GHG emissions this year were 13% lower than last year and 20% lower than three years ago.

Coal will be replaced by electricity and biomass, smart lighting, hot water system management and overall water use reduction.

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