GROUND-BREAKING research has been released to assist Western Australia's beef industry significantly improve its carbon footprint and find practical ways producers can stay ahead of consumer expectations and remain internationally competitive.
The release of the carbon footprint and reduction options for Harvest Road Group operations 2025 report (Carbon Footprint Report) is the culmination of an 18-month research project led by Harvest Road, Meat & Livestock Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, conducted by Integrity Ag and Environment.
It is the first large-scale baselining and emissions reduction plan for a beef supply chain in Australia and its findings are set to benefit producers across the country.
What makes the Carbon Footprint Report unique is the depth of the research into the carbon intensity and greenhouse gas emissions of all parts of the beef production process.
It is the first time at scale, emissions from every aspect of the production process have been examined - from feed intake and food sources to turnoff - to reveal what areas of production should be targeted with special measures to reduce emissions.
These emission reduction activities can be applied to any beef or livestock enterprise to assist in reducing emissions across the red meat industry to achieve the industry's goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
Harvest Road chief executive officer Paul Slaughter said the company was proud to take a national leadership position and lay the foundations for a more thorough understanding of the status and drivers behind carbon emissions in the beef supply chain.
"We know that climate change is a major threat to our industry's future and it is only with practical and implementable solutions that we can meaningfully reduce our emissions as an industry," Mr Slaughter said.
"But that doesn't mean we cannot be ambitious about our targets and we will continue to support our partners to create sustainable businesses that actively prevent climate impact, enhance food security and revitalise local ecosystems."
Harvest Road sustainability lead Scott Strachan said the Carbon Footprint Report provided credible, objective data which all stakeholders could use to benchmark and guide next steps towards improving their own carbon footprint.
"A lack of critical information has been our biggest barrier to moving forward as an industry and there is not enough information about the amount of carbon emissions from the beef supply chain and where the real opportunities to improve exist," Dr Strachan said.
Beef producer and supply partner to Harvest Road Ivan Rogers welcomed the Carbon Footprint Report and said it gave both large and small producers a blueprint of how they can lower their own carbon emissions most effectively.
"What the industry needs is practical and implementable steps towards carbon neutrality and this study gives us direct information on emissions reductions opportunities across areas such as herd management, weaning and growth rates," Mr Rogers said.
"It is a big step in building industry-wide understand of where our best strategies in emissions reductions can be found."
Additionally, the Carbon Footprint Report conducted market research to better understand consumer attitudes and behaviours to carbon emissions and assist in the development of carbon neutral products.
The research shows that to future proof business, brands need to invest in more sustainable practices now to lead the pack and create a clear point of difference as it becomes the norm, with one in four consumers willing to pay 15 per cent more for carbon neutral beef.
The findings come from the responses of 4000 Australian consumers surveyed with opinions showing the carbon footprint of the beef industry is an increasingly important factor for discerning global customers, with two in three consumers say that meat producers should be doing everything they can to be sustainable.
The Carbon Footprint Report is freely available as an online report.
Harvest Road is one of Australia's largest and most diverse agri-food businesses.
Harvest Road's beef division - which includes the Harvey Beef brand - is the State's largest beef processor and owns a processing facility at Harvey.
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