Global research by food giant Cargill has highlighted strong consumer support for meat.
In its latest Feed4Thought survey, Cargill found 80 percent of 4000 democratically-representative respondents surveyed across the United States, Brazil, the Netherlands and Vietnam believed animal protein can be part of an environmentally responsible regimen and 93 percent saying it can play an important role in a healthy diet.
Cargill employs 155,000 employees across 70 countries across a wide range of plant and livestock based agricultural sectors, which includes recent investments in plant-based alternatives to animal proteins.
Feed4Thought is a regular consumer survey conducted by ORC International for Cargill Animal Nutrition that explores key perceptions and opinions about important topics in the animal protein supply chain.
The latest survey conducted in March 2019 showed that more than two-thirds of respondents intended to maintain or increase their consumption of animal protein in the next year, and four-fifths expressed interest in plant-based or alternative sources of protein.
“We’re pleased consumers see animal protein as an important part of a healthy diet,” said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill’s premix and nutrition business.
“Dietary guidance consistently emphasizes the benefits of adequate protein intake from a variety of sources.
“Our aim is to help our livestock, poultry and aquaculture customers meet the growing global demand for protein in the most healthy, productive and sustainable way possible.”
Cargill recently partnered with Heifer International to launch Hatching Hope, an initiative aimed at improving the nutrition and livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030, by training and opening markets for subsistence poultry farmers and providing nutrition education for their communities.
“Access to poultry meat and eggs can rapidly improve people’s diets and have a major impact on their lives,” said Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer International.
“We’re investing in smart, resourceful women farmers, working with them to improve their products, access new markets and build sustainable businesses that generate living incomes.
The survey also asked who bears most responsibility for ensuring food production is sustainable, and almost a third of participants selected food and feed manufacturers as their top choice.
Governments came in second (25 percent) and then consumers via the foods we eat (20 percent).
“Cargill takes this responsibility seriously, with new policies on South American sustainable soy, human rights and deforestation, and partnerships, like The Nature Conservancy-Nestle Purina-Cargill initiative to help US farmers conserve irrigation water,” a Cargill statement announcing the latest survey results stated.
Mr Warta said Cargill Animal Nutrition efforts to deliver sustainability to customers and consumers, along with well-being and performance, included collaborations like the ship-sharing partnership with Skretting, which aimed to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than one-fifth per transported ton of salmon feed by reducing unused capacity in Norway.
Cargill was also exploring novel ingredients to solve specific challenges, such as insect meal, algae and Calysta’s FeedKind® protein as more sustainable alternatives to fish meal and fish oil in aqua feed; products like Cargill’s NUGENA™ line which can reduce heat stress and feather-pecking in cage-free chickens; and its use of Delacon’s phytogenic additives, which can lower methane from cows by up to 10 percent.
“Cargill’s research and innovation around feed additives play an important role for us in terms of ways we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” says Townsend Bailey, director of U.S. Supply Chain Sustainability at McDonalds, “as well as ways we can reduce antibiotic use.”
Focusing on a broad set of sustainability challenges, from GHGs to well-being, reflects consumers’ diverse views on the issues that matter most.
Respondents globally were fairly evenly split between wanting livestock, poultry and fish farmers to focus on reducing antibiotics, using feed with sustainable ingredients, reducing pollutants and “doing more with less” such as improving feed efficiency.
“One of the least told but most significant stories in agriculture today is the incredible progress we are making in helping farmers do more with less,” said Mr Warta.
“All of us in agriculture want to raise our productivity and efficiency—not just so we can operate our businesses more profitably, but so we can steward resources for the next generation who will take over someday.”