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Coles’ carbon-neutral beef brand picks up consumer product award

Beef Central, 12/01/2023

THE Coles Finest Carbon Neutral beef brand has picked up a significant Australian consumer brand award.

National supermarket retailer Coles became the first major Australian retailer to launch a certified Carbon Neutral beef brand in April last year.

Coles new carbon neutral beef brand has picked up a consumer brand award. Click on image for a larger view

The 2023 Product of the Year awards claim to be the world’s largest consumer-voted awards program, recognising product innovation and quality, serving as a shortcut for shoppers helping them to save time and money.  Founded in France in 1987, the competition is now active in 40 countries around the world, including Australia since 2010.

Thirty three Australian award categories, including fresh meat, were judged on six criteria including relevance, uniqueness, excitement, likeability, distinctiveness and innovation.

The program claims to be Australia’s largest independent consumer survey, involving more than 5000 consumers. A jury panel tests each product to ensure it meets the entry criteria before consumers are asked to vote for category winners.

Coles also earned category wins for pantry, convenience and skincare products in the 2023 awards announced recently.

Coles general manager of own-brand products, Charlotte Rhodes, said more Australians were looking to make more environmentally conscious choices.

“Coles works closely with some of Australia’s best beef producers to create great value, new and innovative products to inspire customers and help us fulfil our strategy to make Coles an own-brand powerhouse,” she said.

Product of the Year director Sarah Connelly said every year the competition saw own-brand products raising the bar in innovation, quality and value for money.

“Consumers are voting for them because they are innovative, affordable and come from a brand they know and trust,” she said.

Coles became the first major Australian supermarket chain to launch a certified carbon neutral beef brand last April.

The range, initially available only in Victoria, has now been rolled-out into New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, covering seven cuts of beef, from eye fillet to porterhouse steak.

The Coles Finest product is certified from paddock to shelf to the Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.

Over the past two years, Coles had been working with beef producers across Victoria and New South Wales to help calculate and reduce their emissions, resulting in emissions 19pc below the Australian national average, the company claimed.

Chief executive Steven Cain said the launch of Coles Finest carbon neutral beef was a great example of the retailer working with suppliers to achieve better sustainability outcomes.

“When we announced our Sustainability Strategy a year ago, we said we’d work with all our stakeholders to achieve our Together to Zero emissions ambitions and to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket,” he said.

“Coles Finest Certified Carbon Neutral Beef is a testament to the hard work of our beef producers and their commitment to sustainable practices, and we’re thrilled that they’re taking this important step with us.”

Evidence-based approach

Delatite Station be3ef producers Mark and Fenella Ritchie have supplied Coles for ten years, and are now among the beef producers working to deliver certified carbon neutral beef.

“We are always looking to produce the finest quality beef with a strong commitment to environmental and animal welfare values that are backed up with an evidence-based approach to our decision making,” Mr Ritchie said during last year’s launch.

As part of its carbon neutral beef program, Coles works with farmers to identify ways to reduce emissions from their operations, such as using renewable energy, changing herd management practices for more efficient reproduction and to maximise growth, and use of genetic selection to improve herd health.

Over the past two years, Coles has been working with Dr Stephen Wiedemann, principal research scientist at Integrity Ag & Environment, to study innovative ways tree planting and vegetation can help reduce net carbon emissions on beef farms through carbon sequestration.

Carbon ‘insetting’

Carbon stored in trees is then included in the farm’s ‘carbon account’ and reduces the overall emissions associated with the farm’s production – a process known as carbon ‘insetting,’ in which the process of reducing emissions is carried out at or directly related to their source.

Coles was the first to pilot insetting as part of the Federal Government’s Climate Active program, a partnership between government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action.

“The Coles carbon neutral beef initiative, and the information we have gained along the way about how we can reduce carbon emissions on farms through better herd performance and tree planting, will be invaluable to farmers everywhere,” Dr Wiedemann said.

Coles is also purchasing Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) from the Armoobilla Regeneration Project in south-west Queensland to cover emissions that fall outside the scope of the insetting measures, such as those involved in processing and transporting the beef to stores, ensuring that the range achieves carbon neutral status.

Coles’ Finest Certified Carbon Neutral Beef carries the Climate Active logo to help customers identify the certified beef on shelves. Climate Active certification is granted to businesses and organisations that have credibly reached a state of achieving net zero emissions for their products, services or other initiatives.

Feedlot trials

In further carbon mitigation work, Coles in September announced a partnership with beef industry stakeholders to trial feed supplements that reduce methane emissions from cattle, which the company claimed could lead to a step-change in the sustainability of Australian beef production.

Working with Mort & Co’s Grassdale Feedlot on Queensland’s Darling Downs, the trial is using the methane-inhibiting feed additive Bovaer.

International studies have already shown Bovaer, which is broken down in the animal’s rumen as part of the natural digestive process,  to be successful in reducing methane emissions. The Grassdale trial claimed to be the first in Australia to test the feed supplement in a real-world, large-scale commercial feedlot of industry size and scale.

A recent smaller-scale study of 20 cattle funded by Meat & Livestock Australia found Bovaer, which is added to cattle feed at the rate of just a quarter-teaspoon per day, reduced methane emissions by 60-90pc.

Almost 10,000 shortfed yearling cattle formed part of the trial. Specialised cattle veterinarians and researchers Bovine Dynamics will produce a research paper outlining the findings to be published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal.

Mort & Co chief executive Stephen O’Brien said Mort had approached Coles to partner in the trial because his company believed Bovaer had significant research and science behind it to make it worthy of a trial of this size.

“We’re confident that the final outcome will be a game changer for our industry, providing us with scientifically proven results that will hopefully allow us to roll this out across a larger cohort of cattle and certainly change our environmental footprint,” he said.

“The Australian red meat and livestock industry goal is to be carbon neutral by 2030, and we look forward to working with Coles to lead the way.”

 

 

 

 

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