Then Silver Fern Farms is showing the best way.
Consider: Zero carbon Angus beef. Back to that in a moment.
In recent years SFF has been earnest about getting on the right side of environment-minded consumers.
Here’s what chief executive Simon Limmer said to SFF’s shareholder/supplier conference recently: “Consumer concerns are increasing with respect to soil health, emissions, biodiversity, agricultural intensity, water quality, and the resilience and sustainability of the current food system. There is only one direction of travel for our industry and SFF wants to be out the front leading.”
SFF was the first red meat company in NZ to adopt a sustainability programme and to verify its carbon footprint and set an emission reduction target — total GHG emissions this year were 13% lower than last year and 20% lower than three years ago.
It achieved Toitū enviromark diamond certification, the highest New Zealand-based environmental certification.
Its efforts include curbing its coal use in processing substantially – one-half by 2023, by two-thirds by 2025, and ending it entirely by 2030. Coal will be replaced by electricity and biomass, smart lighting, hot water system management and overall water use reduction.
SFF will also support a group of suppliers to complete the Savory Institute’s ‘Land to Market’ Accreditation, a leading accreditation body for regenerative agriculture. This will involve its suppliers adopting a broad range of land-use practices, which focus on regenerating topsoil, while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity and respecting animal welfare.
Said Limmer: “These practices can be adopted over time, to ultimately produce nutrient-dense food with a lower environmental impact and positive social outcomes.”
Leading edge farmers like Greg Hart here in Hawke’s Bay regard the Savory Institute as a leading global standard setter in terms of restorative farming practices.
And what about that zero carbon Angus beef?
Limmer says SFF will launch Toitū Net Carbon Zero Certified Beef into the US market later this year.
SFF is working with AgResearch and Toitū Envirocare to complete a lifecycle assessment of its 100% Angus beef. That assessment involves measuring the greenhouse gas emissions from production, shipping and consuming a kilogram of 100% Angus beef in the US, then working with its Angus suppliers to measure, report and reduce emissions. Emissions from the beef will be accounted for by carbon removals by vegetation on the supplier farms.
Still a carbon offsetting arrangement, but coupled with the rest of SFF’s emissions reduction and sustainability commitments, a comprehensive programme setting a leadership standard for the sector.