Sustainability Forum: red meat in 2030 and beyond

29 November 2018

Synthetic ‘meat’, carbon minimisation, drought policy and the future for live exports were among the hot topics discussed at MLA’s Sustainability Forum at Red Meat 2018 on Wednesday 21 November.

ABC National Regional Affairs Reporter, Anna Henderson, moderated the panel discussion and subsequent Q&A session, which saw panellists discuss the theme ‘What can we do to support a thriving red meat industry to 2030 and beyond?’

The panel comprised:

  • SA producer Jamie Heinrich, a Director of Sheep Producers Australia
  • Queensland lot feeder Bryce Camm, outgoing Chair of the Sustainability Steering Group, Australian Beef Sustainability Framework
  • Stephanie Russo, Natural Capital Manager, NAB
  • Mark Inglis, Farm Assurance and Supply Chain Manager Livestock, JBS Swift Australia
  • Don Mackay, Independent Chair of the Red Meat Advisory Council
  • Susie Craig, Sustainable Supply and Quality Manager for McDonald’s.

What will the red meat industry look like in 2030?

Anna kicked-off the discussion by asking panellists to discuss what they thought the red meat industry would look like in 2030.

“Through a customer lense, it’s really all about consumers continuing to trust and love eating beef,” McDonald’s Susie Craig said.

“Certainly, from McDonald’s perspective in 2030, we would hope the consumer can continue to feel good about eating beef, they know how it’s produced, and there’s an industry that’s very transparent and continuing to share with the consumer about how their product is produced.

“There’s already a lot of great stuff happening, a lot of producers in this country are already doing great work.”

“We will be very transparent. The customers and consumers they’re going to want to know the ins and outs of the product they’re buying. They like to know those animals have been treated very well throughout their life, and they’ve only really had one bad day in their lifetime,” Mark Inglis said.

Synthetic meat – ‘just another protein’

Synthetic meat will be just another competitor on the shelf in the protein space but won’t kill the red meat industry – that was the general consensus of the panel when discussing this contentious issue.

“I see them as another competitor. We’ve got other competitors in other proteins and other food products,” Jamie Heinrich said.

“The best way to combat it is to go out on the front foot and show what we do so well and that’s why we need to be sustainable. If we can go out and tell the really good story of what we do, then we’re winning.”

“No doubt, it’s going to be a competitor – but this industry does such a great job in terms of sustainable product, that has a great provenance story behind it, that we’re selling to the world at an affordable price and we can’t forget that either,” Bryce Camm said.

“This industry has almost an obligation of supplying affordable protein, and that’s not going to come through synthetics in the foreseeable future.

“We need to focus on what we’re good at and allow the synthetic industry to go on their own journey, and we will flog them from pillar to post, because of all the capacity of people invested in this industry and the structures and accountability we’ve invested in behind our product. I think it’s going to be a long journey before we’re seriously competing on shelf with synthetics.”

More information:

To watch the full Industry Sustainability Forum online, click here.

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