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Supply Chain
This Partnership Is Set to Slash Scope 3 Emissions in the Meat Sector

New partnership between the Meat Institute and Supplier LOCT signifies a pivotal moment in the effort to tackle the climate impacts of our food system and offers a template for other industries to follow.

As the world tightens its grip on the reins of climate change, a colossal challenge looms large on the horizon: tackling Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These indirect emissions, which occur in company supply chains, have so far slipped through the cracks of regulatory frameworks and sustainability strategies. From the extraction of raw materials to the production of packaging, these impacts come from sources not owned or controlled by a business. And they represent the majority (often up to 80 percent) of a company’s overall carbon footprint. According to CDP, on average, the Scope 3 emissions of a firm are 5.5 times greater than their Scope 1 and 2 emissions combined. Addressing these elusive emissions is not just a corporate responsibility but a global imperative, poised to define the sustainability landscape of the next decade.

When it comes to the production of food, addressing supply chain impacts is especially important. Food production accounts for more than 25 percent of global GHGs. Of these, almost a third comes directly from livestock and fisheries.

An industry-first partnership

This is why the recently announced partnership between the Meat Institute and Supplier LOCT (Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition) has been so warmly welcomed: As part of the new partnership, the Meat Institute is investing $65,000 to enable up to 100 of its members to gain valuable training that will help them to set science-based GHG-reduction targets and cut emissions.

“Supplier LOCT equips companies with the knowledge and strategies they need to set and reach emission reduction targets,” Nicole DelSasso, the organization’s Director, told Sustainable Brands®. “The Meat Institute’s commitment to supporting member participation will substantially contribute to sector- and food-system-wide climate goals.”

By 2030, the Institute wants all of its 350 members to have set a science-based emissions-reduction goal. The partnership is a crucial part of meeting this ambition.

Supplier LOCT — which recently won the Climate Registry's Innovative Partnership Award — was established in 2020 with founding members including Mars, Inc; PepsiCo and McCormick & Company. Today, more than 1,000 supplier companies that serve some of the world’s biggest multinationals are working with the organization to get mentoring and actionable instructions from its subject matter experts via an online learning program.

“For Meat Institute members, the partnership gives them a chance to come together in a pre-competitive environment to increase their climate knowledge overall and tackle the challenges of supply chain emissions,” DelSasso says. “Companies get hands-on instruction in measuring and reducing carbon emissions, learn from best practices, get experience with methodologies for calculating emissions, and interact with various platforms and resources for GHG data management and reporting.”

As participants progress through the Supplier LOCT courses, they will be prepared to set targets, abate emissions and accurately disclose findings, she adds.

Clear progress

So, how can the organization guarantee that what is being taught will lead to the necessary actions and emissions reductions in the food supply chain? Well, Supplier LOCT has been tracking the reaction and impact of its courses among delegates. As of Fall 2023, more than 850 suppliers in 65 countries have used the online courses — and 96 percent of suppliers have said the course webinar content and assignments helped their team’s ability to make climate progress. 37 suppliers received an approved science-based target after joining Supplier LOCT, and 37 more have submitted their target for SBTi and are awaiting approval. Another 91 companies have formally committed to setting science-based targets in the next two years.

For example, Callisons is a company that supplies bigger food companies with mint oil, menthol crystals and powder flavorings. Sustainability Team Lead Kolbi Christianson, who has taken several courses — including Scope 3 Footprinting, Target Setting, Abatement and Disclosure — says: “The program gave us a common language for understanding our customers’ expectations around climate, [and] a footing to discuss climate action and abatement projects with energy consultants, engineers, our leadership and our customers.”

Science-based targets and strategies are critical

DelSasso believes that science-based target-setting is crucial if we are to realize effective supply chain decarbonization.

“The most important first step any company can take is learning how to effectively measure and reduce their emissions in ways that can be verified by third parties. Establishing credible climate roadmaps is critical in achieving any progress towards decarbonization.”

So, what remains the biggest challenge for meat companies when it comes to tackling Scope 3? What needs to happen to unlock things and accelerate progress? DelSasso believes the biggest hurdle is making sure that there are consistent pathways and measurements for progress — “particularly for smaller companies or companies at earlier stages of their continuous improvement journey. Predictability and certainty are critical. They need to know what investments will yield results and they need to be assured that those investments, if matched by proven impact, will be recognized as meeting their customers’ and other stakeholders’ expectations.”

With current uncertainty regarding what outcomes will ‘get credit,’ it’s tricky for companies to invest in implementing abatement programs that will work for the long term, she adds: “A final, solidified GHG Protocol standard for the agricultural sector will be helpful.”

In an era defined by urgent environmental concerns, this partnership between the Meat Institute and Supplier LOCT signifies a pivotal moment in the concerted effort to tackle the climate impacts of our food system. It’s a collaboration that offers a template for other industries to follow — demonstrating the significant potential for impact when organizations commit to and enact rigorous, science-based emissions-reduction strategies. As we approach 2030, it’s clear that the path to significant GHG cuts lies in education, collaboration, and the willingness to pull out all the stops to ensure environmental stewardship and future-proof our food supply.