The future of emissions in the beef industry

Fecha de publicación: 19/01/2023
Fuente: Food Processing
A research team led by the University of Queensland (UQ) has developed a tool to help the global beef industry reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions while meeting demand for meat.

To formulate a framework to guide and inform industry sustainability efforts, the team assessed the economic and emissions impacts of different cattle feeds at different locations globally.

Adam C Castonguay, Postdoctoral Research Fellow from UQ’s School of Veterinary Science, said according to the study as much as 85% of emissions could be cut without an overall economic impact on the beef sector.

“This can be achieved by opting for more efficient feeds and locations, and restoring forests in inefficient areas, without increasing global costs of production or reducing demand for beef,” Castonguay said.

He and his team mapped out the most efficient locations around the world to produce beef, with the maps changing depending on factors such as whether society values reducing emissions over reducing costs. In doing so, the team was able to gain insights into beef production at a global level, which can inform decisions about the future of the industry by inputting trade-offs and opportunities.

The tool developed by the team could be used by governments and the industry to develop policy and strategy.

“There will be continued global demand for beef and there are a huge number of livelihoods associated with it, so this research aims to find an appropriate balance to maintain the bottom line of the sector,” Castonguay said. “Further economic modelling and fine-tuning the data for specific locations would reveal the implications of any changes, including on beef prices for consumers.”

According to him, the optimisation method developed by the team overcame historic roadblocks to finding an environmental–economic balance.

“There are many innovations in cattle feed to increase productivity or reduce emissions which have not been analysed as a trade-off with other values and goals,” he said. “Our results highlight the massive potential for improvements in the way we produce beef, to help us to meet global sustainability goals.”

The extent to which emissions and production costs may be reduced depends on the values and preferences of society, Castonguay said.

Image caption: iStock.com/Byronsdad