Ethical beef taking next steps

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The report helps market the Australian beef industry as a clean, green and ethical source to buy from. Photo by Rodney Braithwaite

Australia’s sustainable beef sector has received its 2021 report card.

The report found more producers are using pain relief for animal husbandry procedures, more food waste is being diverted from landfill along the beef value chain, CO2 emissions continue to reduce and healthy groundcover is increasing.

On June 16 every year, the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework provides an update to measure sustainability targets in the beef supply chain.

Environmental stewardship, animal care, wellbeing, economic resilience, people and community are all scrutinised.

ABSF chair Mark Davie said the report card was important and proved to consumers they could feel good about eating ethically produced, premium beef.

“Australia has a critical role in rising to the challenge of feeding a growing global population, and the ABSF is a key tool to ensure we can deliver high-quality beef that is powerfully nutritious and sustainably produced,” Mr Davie said.

“Since its launch five years ago, this annual update has become a powerful aide in both identifying where we are performing well and where there are opportunities to improve, and shows we are serious about being accountable not only for our successes but for out impacts.”

A key finding from this year’s report included 2.39 million tonnes of food waste being recovered along the value chain in 2021, diverting the matter from landfill.

“This is an excellent step forward as reducing waste will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of beef produced,” Mr Davie said.

Australian beef producers have also embraced sustainable practices, with 35 per cent of the industry using pain relief for invasive husbandry practices — representing a five per cent lift compared to last year’s report.

“While there is still work to be done, this is a positive trend for the industry to reach its goal of 100 per cent use of pain relief by 2030,” Mr Davie said.

“Prioritising the welfare of animals through pain relief, across the full scope of the supply chain, is not only paramount to the trust industry shares with customers and communities, it also demonstrates the sector’s commitment to the improved care of animals, and will be a differentiator of Australian beef in global markets.”

This year’s update also reported there had been a 58.21 per cent reduction in the emission of CO2 since 2005, as industry works towards achieving its self-determined goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Through the CN30 initiative, our industry defined a problem and set about investing in research and development to address the challenge, informed by drivers of industry productivity and cost,” Mr Davie said.

“Because of this initiative we are now leading the global narrative on emissions reduction and making on-farm and in-business changes to achieve our target.”

Grazing land is also in good shape, with the report showing 79.6 per cent of Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions achieved healthy groundcover thresholds in 2021 (as measured in September in the late dry season) — a key indicator of land condition.


The main course at the Sydney event where the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework report card was announced. Not exactly pub food — which is why sustainable beef can be such a cash cow for farmers. Photo by Supplied

What do you serve at the launch of a sustainable beef industry report card?

Australian chef and food industry leader Glenn Flood served beef sourced from Casino Food Co-op — Australia’s largest 100 per cent farmer-owned meat processing enterprise.

The Casino beef was a prime example of best management practices grounded in sustainability, creating a sought-after premium product.

The menu started with beef bresaola accompanied by a hazelnut dukkah, shaved pecorino cheese and salsa verde entree.

The main course was a 12-hour slow cooked beef short rib with Jerusalem artichokes, heirloom carrots and liquorish glaze.

Mr Flood said Australians had a growing hunger to understand the journey of the food they eat.

“Consumers want to know provenance, they want to know the story behind where their beef has come from and are eager to know how it was produced,” he said.

“It’s now vital to provide consumers with confidence the product they’re eating has been produced by an industry which is doing all it can to look after the environment and animals, while supporting local communities and economies.