NATIONAL supermarket retailer Coles is expanding its use of a methane-reducing feed additive, following two trials which found the product reduced cattle methane emissions by at least 50 percent, and had no negative effect on meat quality.
The Bovaer feed additive will now play a greater role in Coles’ strategy to reduce emissions throughout its supply chain, with three Coles Finest Carbon Neutral Beef feedlot suppliers now using the supplement, thanks to a new partnership with global nutrition and health company DSM Firmenich.
Bovaer is now approved for use by European Food Safety Authority and available in more than 50 countries.
Coles’ first started exploring Bovaer in 2022 when it participated in trials with Mort & Co’s Grassdale feedlot and the University of New England.
Bovaer works by suppressing the enzyme that triggers methane production in cattle, and is broken down as part of the animal’s natural digestive process.
The initial trial found the supplement to be successful in reducing methane emissions, with no effect on average exit weight, total weight gain, average daily gain, or feed to gain ratio.
The study also measured Meat Standards Australia grading parameters which capture the quality, tenderness, flavour and juiciness of beef. It found the beef from cattle fed Bovaer was no different than other beef fed for Coles’ beef program.
Coles livestock sustainability & innovation manager Maria Crawford said the trial results gave the company the knowledge and confidence to expand the use of Bovaer as an emissions reduction initiative.
“We were encouraged by the results of our trials and have used the findings to introduce the supplement to some of our beef suppliers to help them lower emissions on farm and help to reduce our Scope 3 emissions,” Ms Crawford said.
“We’re looking forward to expanding the use of this innovative supplement to more of our Coles Finest certified carbon neutral beef suppliers and continuing the important research to help support the beef industry’s aspiration of carbon neutrality by 2030 as well as Coles’ sustainability ambitions,” she said.
Coles Finest certified carbon neutral beef supplier Warren Barnett from Associated Feedlot near Methowra NSW has been using Bovaer since May.
He sees the supplement is an important part of his business’s overall goal to reduce emissions across its operations.
“We’ve I’ve been working hard to reduce emissions for the past two decades, and this supplement is the new frontier in our sustainability journey,” Mr Barnett said.
Associated currently has 5500 cattle on feed under the Bovaer feed program.
“It’s been a small change to our feed management which will have a positive environmental benefit and continue to deliver consistent, great-tasting beef,” he said.
Principal scientist and managing director of Integrity Ag & Environment, Dr Steve Wiedemann has been working with Coles to track supplier performance and lower the emission intensity of beef for the past three years.
He said the use of methane-reducing supplements was the next step to lower the carbon footprint of beef.
“Bovaer is an effective product with strong research supporting mitigation rates of at least 50 percent and as high as 85pc, in the diets being used to finish cattle in the Coles Finest certified carbon neutral beef program,” he said.
“I’m confident this product can deliver lower emissions and I’m looking forward to seeing its use expanded throughout the Coles supply chain over time,” he said.
DSM vice president Mark van Nieuwland said Bovaer had been in development over more than ten years, with 70 peer-reviewed trials, He said the large-scale commercial feedlot trial undertaken at Mort & Co’s Grassdale feedlot provided further evidence of the efficacy of Bovaer under Australian conditions.
“The potential to reduce methane emissions is exciting and offers great opportunity to the Australian beef industry. Australian beef can be lower in emissions while retaining the same great quality it is known for,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to now expanding the program and our partnership with Coles to explore further opportunities that will ultimately lead to more environmentally focused offerings to consumers.”
The Coles Finest certified carbon neutral beef range was launched in Victoria in April 2022, before being rolled-out nationally in all stores from April this year.
The range includes seven cuts: rump medallions, eye fillet, porterhouse, rib eye roast, rump medallions, beef chuck roast, beef blade roast and scotch fillet, which was award Product of the Year 2023 in the Consumer Survey of Product Innovation.
More recently the range expanded with the release of Coles Finest certified carbon neutral pork. The products are certified carbon neutral from farm to shelf in accordance with the Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.
Based on prices listed on Coles’ online retail platform this morning, the Coles Finest carbon neutral range (100-day grainfed, not 70 like Coles everyday offering) was this morning selling for the following premiums over everyday Coles beef: Scotch fillet $58.67/kg ($41.67), porterhouse $51.35/kg ($40) rump medallions $42.11/kg ($40).
Coles Livestock Sustainability & Innovation Manager Maria Crawford with Coles Finest certified carbon neutral beef supplier Warren Barnett