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Sustainabilty on the world stage

03 October 2019

The Australian red meat industry’s ambition of being carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30) was a key area of discussion during Climate Week in the New York last week. 

MLA’s Manager of Sustainability Strategy & Stakeholders, Pip Band, discusses Climate Week’s ‘Nature Climate Hub’ – a forum for political and business leaders to discuss climate action – and how livestock producers are part of the solution.

We also talk to US-based Business Development Manager, Catherine Golding, about a media event hosted by MLA’s international beef and lamb brand ‘True Aussie’ and the impact the ‘carbon neutral by 2030’ initiative is having in the US market.

Pip Band: Speaker and panellist at the Nature Climate Hub

Q: Tell us about the focus of your presentation at the Hub.

Pip: The session I spoke at was called Livestock and grasslands: support for a 1.5 degree future?. It highlighted that rangelands and grasslands are forgotten landscapes when it comes to climate solutions and conservation.

Grasslands and savannahs offer unparalleled carbon sequestration opportunities while supporting food production and security, as well as biodiversity and ecosystem services. My presentation highlighted that if the world needs nature based solutions, then the discussion needs to evolve to celebrate and empower the world’s graziers to recognise the work underway and encourage practices that build soil carbon for multiple benefits – feeding the world, storing carbon and safeguarding biosecurity.

FAST FACT: Grasslands provide more reliable carbon sinks than trees.    

 

Q: Why did MLA attend Climate Week NYC?

Pip: It’s important to raise awareness with global policy makers, customers and civil society about the important role graziers play in producing food on land that can’t support other food production, while storing the world’s carbon and preserving biodiversity.

We all know there’s increasing concern about the impact the livestock sector has on the environment, but the lens this is viewed through is quite narrow. It’s important that we’re giving our stakeholders the full story.

The Hub’s panel discussion was one of the ways we’re working to shift the narrative from red meat as a ‘climate villain’ to one where livestock producers are part of the solution and seen as climate heroes.

Q: How did you share Australian red meat’s story?

Pip: The focus was highlighting the need to celebrate graziers who not only produce food from land that can’t produce other food, but who do so while helping to store the world’s carbon.

Australian red meat’s carbon neutral target gives us a really strong position to be able to talk with credibility about being part of the solution and highlight the good work underway, but also acknowledge that, like all industries, there needs to be a focus on continual improvement.

Producers in Australia who are actively storing carbon through the Federal Government’s Climate Solutions Fund were highlighted, as well as the many pathways for the industry to strive towards Carbon Neutrality. 

FAST FACT: Modelling undertaken by CSIRO shows that at face value, mere 0.8 % per year increase in soil organic carbon stocks would effectively mitigate Australia’s national annual greenhouse gas emissions.  





 

Catherine Golding: Behind the scenes at MLA’s True Aussie media event

Q: What was the event True Aussie hosted in New York City?

Catherine: To coincide with Climate Week and Pip’s talk at the Nature Climate Hub, True Aussie Beef & Lamb (MLA’s international brand) hosted a dinner to illustrate the Australian red meat industry’s commitment to the environment through its carbon neutral by 2030 initiative, CN30. 

We saw this as an opportunity to ‘turn around the conversation’ – to take the perception that eating red meat is bad for the planet and reframe it. Livestock producers globally and specifically in Australia are unsung climate heroes who manage one of the planet’s largest landscapes – savannahs and grasslands. 

We invited 16 influential food media including Thrillist; Eat this, not that; and Fox 5 New York TV – who collectively have over 22 million fans, viewers and followers – to learn more about how red meat is sustainably produced in Australia, try some for themselves and share its quality attributes.

FAST FACT: According to data released by CSIRO in June, the Australian red meat industry achieved a 57.6% reduction in GHG emissions between 2005 and 2016. It was one of only two industries in Australia to reduce emissions (the other industry being ‘manufacturing’)

 

Q: What impact is the Australian red meat industry’s CN30 initiative having in the US market?

Catherine: Carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30) positions Australian red meat as the leader in environmental care. 

In this increasingly crowded market, with growth in local grassfed beef as well as strong sales of alternative plant-based proteins, we need to pull every lever to stand out from our competitors and exceed consumer expectations. This means we need to get an A+ for high quality, consistent, nutritious, sustainable beef.   

INSIGHTS FROM THE US:

  • 83% of US millennials say it’s ‘very important’ that companies implement environmental care programs.
  • 22% of total store sales are sustainable products (20% growth from 2014).
  • Grassfed beef retail sales have doubled in the past four years – this has been driven by a belief that it is ‘better’ – better quality/taste, better for their health, better animal welfare, and better for the environment.

 

It’s not only the environmentally conscious shoppers that are interested in carbon neutral red meat. Chefs, food manufacturers and an importer have asked if they can use Australia’s CN30 goal in their marketing efforts of Australian beef and lamb. In addition, hearing about the industry’s goal has prompted chefs to trial Australian red meat and add it to their menus when they hadn’t done so before.