Is carbon-neutral beef the future of Australia’s beef sector?

(Eco Business, 20 Nov 2019) As beef consumption grows in Asia, a handful of Australian producers are trying out going carbon neutral. Is this the future of the industry?

The Australian beef sector is pushing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, in what may be a race against time for an industry facing an existential crisis as its environmental impact becomes a focus globally.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), cattle produce 62 per cent of the 8.1 gigatonnes of livestock-related emissions. This awareness has led to more consumers going vegetarian or cutting animal protein from their diets in the hopes of reducing emissions and deforestation from livestock farming, and is boosting the popularity of lab-grown meat products by companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

However, a spokesperson from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) points out that a major shift away from meat looks unlikely in the near future, based on what it’s seeing in Asia.

Ellen Rodgers, the industry body’s Southeast Asia business manager, says that while some economies may have reached ‘peak meat’, with declining per-person consumption and slowing population growth, beef is still firmly on the menu in most societies around the world.

“Across Asia in general, there’s still a huge increase in red meat consumption. And we’re pushing for quality over quantity for Australian products and encouraging consumers to be mindful of what they’re choosing.”

Growing middle classes across Southeast Asia are using their greater purchasing power and education to access higher-quality protein sources, which creates a window of opportunity for a more environmentally conscious beef industry, Rodgers tells Eco-Business.

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Eco Business, 20 Nov 2019: Is carbon-neutral beef the future of Australia’s beef sector?