SETTING goals and targets with specific metrics that are measurable and time-bound is critical to showing, not just telling, consumers that the beef industry is committed to sustainability at every point in the value chain.
That was the message delivered by Teys Australia’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Carl Duncan, to around 90 stakeholders who attended the recent Australian Beef Sustainability Framework Consultative Committee meeting in Brisbane.
“Goals with specific metrics provide the data point for us to look at trends and talk about changes over time, and then through our commercial lens, tell the story of what our product and industry is doing,” Mr Duncan said.
“Broad statements on sustainability just won’t wear in today’s environment.”
Global goal setting should involve multiple stakeholders
His message was reinforced by Ruaraidh Petre, Executive Director of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). Mr Petre said initial goal setting by the GRSB had involved a series of individual roundtable discussions with 24 member countries, to find overlapping issues.
“The GRSB has set ambitious first goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving land use and animal welfare. We needed to articulate our ambitions so that people realise we want to be part of the solution to some of the global problems,” Mr Petre told the ABSF audience of industry representatives, processors, retailers, wholesalers, investors, and civil organisations.
“What’s also really important is that this is a multi-stakeholder initiative. We have involved people from inside and outside the industry, including NGOs, who have an interest in making sure things are done sustainably, to keep us honest and keep our work real.”
Industry should seek ‘progress over perfection’
Mr Duncan said Teys Australia had set its own targets and was now working with customers around the world to help inform the sustainability programs of the businesses.
“As a manufacturer with six beef processing plants, value add facilities and feedlots, Teys has developed a broad sustainability strategy that works toward 52 indicators that demonstrate our credentials on issues such as animal welfare, environmental stewards, safe healthy affordable food, economic resilience, people and community” he said.
“As you can appreciate, getting the data to be robust and developing confidence around it takes time. As a globally connected company accessing 60 markets around the world, we’re collaborating with our customers on their sustainability goals and targets.”
Mr Duncan said the industry should seek progress over perfection.
“We all need to work towards good, realistic goals that are based on smart principles, and understand the value proposition of sustainability in things like lowering operating cost, maintaining market share, attracting premiums or avoiding discounts in some markets, and avoiding regulation.
“It’s easy to get lost in the detail, but if we can articulate the challenges and acknowledge that some things are difficult to achieve, we’ll find a way to get things done.”
Goal setting inspires collaboration, innovation
With more than 500 members in 24 different countries responsible for more than two thirds of cross-border beef trade, Ruaraidh Petre says a key factor for the GBRS was recognising there are different solutions for sustainability in different systems.
“For some of our members, the priorities are literally the livelihoods of the people who own livestock and the supply of food to the people who live in the region. It’s about just surviving. Collaboration multiplies the benefits of goal setting and inspires innovation,” he said.
“Our goals are ambitious and we may not yet have all the solutions to achieve them. We aim to inspire research and investment in science and innovation to unlock the potential impact of these goals.
“After all, people didn’t know how they were going to get to the moon when they started planning to do it, but they set the goal and they got there.”
We need to change the language from obtaining data to providing evidence and insights for sustainability transparency and ESG whether it is traceability, biosecurity, deforest free supply chains, animal welfare, carbon emissions, land utilisation etc.
Once you accept the idea that beef production is not sustainable or that you need to prove beef production sustainability under some entities guidelines………….you have lost the battle.
Nature and natural processes have been proven to be sustainable for tens of thousands of years……….why would we accept that certain men have decided otherwise? That arrogance is unbelievable.