Hewitt and MLA heading up Australia’s largest red meat sustainability study

Beef Central, 03/10/2023

AUSTRALIA’S largest supply chain sustainability research study of the national meat and livestock industry is underway, driven by a partnership between Australia’s leading organic global meat producer Hewitt and Meat & Livestock Australia.

Both a research and practical education program, Food for the Future: Sustainability and Australia’s Red Meat Industry will involve and engage hundreds of producers and farmers nationally to review current and emerging trends within the meat and livestock supply chain to implement future-driven, sustainable practices.

The study aims to deliver industry-wide emission reduction planning, enhanced biodiversity projects, improved natural capital outcomes, and expanded regenerative agriculture techniques. For Hewitt, this includes the potential for carbon and environmentally-branded red meat products. Importantly, it will also provide valuable, hands-on learning opportunities for Australian producers and farmers who are at the frontline of implementing climate-sensitive agricultural practices.

The Food for the Future study comes at a critical time for the Australian meat industry, as both Federal and State governments have recently voiced a shared commitment to ensuring Australia becomes a world leader in ESG (environmental, social, governance) friendly agribusiness. Australian agriculture land managers are responsible for maintaining almost 60% of Australian landmass, which accounts for more than $6.5 trillion worth of natural capital assets. This places significant responsibility on the local sector, and presents huge regional opportunity.

“Hewitt is very pleased to be partnering with the MLA on this groundbreaking study,” said Hewitt Group CEO, Mick Hewitt. “It is the first research project in Australia covering all elements at this scale, and will deliver practical outcomes across our unique supply chain throughout central and eastern Australia.

“We are committed to our corporate purpose of ‘feeding the world with a system that lasts forever’, and leading the industry with studies like this is a critical part of that.”

Hewitt is the largest integrated supply chain of certified organic meat in Australia, and the company behind household brands such as Cleaver’s Organic, Borrowdale Free Range Pork, Warilba Organic Lamb, and Arcadian Meat. With substantial holdings in Queensland, NSW, and Central Australia, Hewitt has over 5.6 million acres of rich agricultural land, 200,000 livestock, 15 properties, and over 270 employees.

While the Food for the Future study directly assesses Hewitt’s beef and lamb supply chain and third party producers, graziers throughout Australia’s meat and livestock industry will be able to access and learn from the findings. The study is anticipated to incorporate a minimum of over 350,000 cattle and 160,000 sheep through engagement with Hewitt’s wider producer group, with the likelihood of these numbers increasing further.

“MLA is co-investing in this project as it will demonstrate the widespread environmental and sustainability activities and targets across industry, while also supporting the identification of market access opportunities for well-credentialled red meat,” MLA managing director Jason Strong, said.

“The project will also demonstrate how our industry supply chains can successfully implement positive action around carbon, biodiversity, natural capital and regenerative agriculture. It will create a strategy towards carbon neutrality, enhanced biodiversity, improved natural capital outcomes and expanded regenerative agriculture techniques.”

MLA has established an ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. While a number of meat and livestock companies are developing strategies to achieve this, few have set corresponding goals throughout their supply chains. Hewitt is showing leadership on this front, by pioneering an actionable ESG plan to baseline its own holdings and supply chains.

The Food for the Future study is being rolled out over two stages across 2023 and 2024, and will be implemented with the assistance of Soil Land FoodIntegrity AG & Environment, and Bush Heritage Australia. It will involve face-to-face workshops with graziers and livestock producers across Australia who form Hewitt’s supplier network, and deliver important educational opportunities for many graziers who may require a helping hand with supply chain certifications, new technologies, or processes such as carbon baselining and greenhouse gas reporting.

There will be five pillars to the Food for the Future: Sustainability and Australia’s Red Meat Industry study:

  1. Carbon Management – improving the understanding of supply chain greenhouse gas emissions on the land, from production to processing
  2. Biodiversity – including conservation initiatives to complement on-farm production; and biodiversity action plans (eg. conservation strategies and monitoring)
  3. Natural Capital – strategies to highlight the link between natural resources on a property (plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals), ecosystem services, and on-farm profitability
  4. Regenerative Agriculture – built on the principles of working with nature to build the health of natural systems (eg. soils and pastures). Developing improvement plans and workshops; including building drought resilience, soil health building, reducing synthetic inputs, increasing carbon storage, and inspiring practice change across the supply chain
  5. Market opportunities – Identifying the existing and emerging opportunities to link producers and land managers with customers and consumers.

“All industry sectors, including agri-food supply chains, are expected by consumers, investors and broader society to now enhance their sustainability credentials,” said Mick Hewitt. “Hewitt has a goal to be a global leader in sustainable brand products, and to provide leadership to the broader red meat industry through the execution of initiatives such as the Food for the Future studyWe’re looking forward to seeing the results as the initiative rolls out over the coming months.”



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  1. Richard Sellers, 04/10/2023

    A very good investment for the Australian Beef industry for now and future generations.
    Well done Hewitt and MLA

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