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Beef Sector Collaborates on New Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, a group helping food and drink companies to achieve sustainable production and sourcing of agricultural raw materials whose members include McDonald's Europe and Unilever, has announced the development of its Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming, what it is calling the most complete guidelines developed for beef production to date.

The Platform says the introduction of the Principles will help advance the production of safe, high-quality beef in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic condition of farmers, their employees and local communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of beef cattle. The Principles are designed for global application, for both developed and emerging nations, and apply to mainstream producers in all areas of the world. SAI Platform’s Beef Working Group will launch the Principles — which cover sustainable farming systems and economic, social and economic sustainability, and require achievements in each area of beef cattle production — at the “Beefing Up Sustainability” seminar tomorrow in Brussels.

SAI Platform brings together over 50 global members who share, at precompetitive level, knowledge and initiatives to support the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices. Through collaboration with millions of farmers around the world, SAI Platform members have the potential to influence farming practices in every agricultural producing country. The Beef Working Group is made up of representatives from McDonald’s Europe, Unilever, Inalca, OSI Food Solutions UK, Bord Bia, McKey Food Service, Vion Food Group, Quality Meat Scotland, Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland, ABP, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, FAI Farms, Nestec, Dawn Meats, Novus International and EBLEX.

The Principles are a collaborative achievement for the beef sector, bringing alignment to the initiatives previously developed or being developed in the beef supply chain. By having one set of agreed Principles, the beef sector can now focus on delivering against these Principles at an increased rate. The Principles provide the necessary sustainability assurances needed for companies’ supply chains, thereby negating the need for purchasers to develop and pursue their own sourcing programs.

“Beef is the most iconic item on our menu, so sourcing beef sustainably has long been a priority for our business; however, to date there has been no widely agreed definition of what sustainable beef looks like,” said Keith Kenny, Senior Director of Supply Chain at McDonald’s Europe. “SAI Platform has successfully brought together producers and processors from across the supply chain, along with key retailers as knowledge exchange partners, to establish a set of Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming that we can all support. This is a significant achievement and the new Principles will be instrumental in aligning actions and accelerating progress towards a more sustainable beef supply chain.”

The next step, Kenny says, is to develop a set of Sustainable Beef Farming Practices to help farmers meet those Principles in a practical way and then widely promote and support their adoption, and aligning their work with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Charlie Coakley, Group Environmental Manager at Dawn Meats said: “Dawn Meats is committed to the sustainability of the beef supply chain from farm to fork. The global adoption of the Principles ensures sustainability is enshrined in beef production, providing clear environmental, social and economic benefits to farmers, their employees and local community. It will allow Dawn Meats to further assist our beef suppliers in sustainable practices.”

Growing consumer awareness of the vulnerable state of the global environment and food supply, along with increased education about ecologically sound foods, is leading to a long-term increase in environmentally conscious eating, according to the “Eco-Eating Culinary Trend Mapping Report," released in August by the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) Innovation and Packaged Facts.

The report says today’s progressive diners and food shoppers are thinking about their eco-eating footprints and are looking for sustainable choices in restaurants, hotels and retail outlets, as well as grocery stores.