The annual update for the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework is being launched today at a Queensland Rural Press Club event featuring a panel including celebrity chef Darren Robertson.
Also speaking will be wholesaler and a first mover in carbon neutral beef marketing, James Madden, group manager resource efficiency and sustainability at Teys Carl Duncan and Queensland producer and Agforce president Georgie Somerset.
The panel will discuss accelerating beef sustainability in a post pandemic world from paddock to plate.
Chair of the Sustainability Steering Group Tess Herbert will tell the audience that while the Framework is well known with its intended audience, there was work to be done to better engage industry.
"Since launching four years ago the feedback from external stakeholders, including retailers, banks and NGOs is that the Framework is valuable. It is providing a clear and transparent report card on where we are up to in the areas they care most about. Our customers, investors and other influential stakeholders are extremely supportive of the transparency, progress, balance and accessibility of the Framework," she said.
"Where we can do better is to engage more with producers and other members of the supply chain.
"That is something that our Steering Group is focussed on in 2020."
The audience will hear from panellists that a renewed focus by consumers on the ethics and sustainability of their food is likely.
"We certainly all enjoyed seeing shelves of beef cleared in the early stages of COVID-19, as consumers flocked to a product they trusted. While some may see this as a sign that sustainability is no longer as prominent a priority, the experts are pointing to an increased focus on how food is produced and the ethics of food as we move out of the pandemic.
"Without a doubt the operating environment is changing for our industry and has been for some time. That is why in 2017 the industry developed the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework. It's about building trust and working collaboratively within industry and with our customers and investors.
"Ultimately the framework aims to ensure that Aussie beef is not only recognised for its high quality, but for the care we take in looking after our people, our animals and the natural environment in which we operate."
Mrs Herbert says there is still work to be done to highlight the benefits of transparency and collaboration to industry.
"I speak to producers and members along the value chain all the time. Sometimes, what I hear is fear of outsiders telling us what to do. But there shouldn't be. Mostly our industry is doing the right thing.
"Together, we will double the value of Australian red meat sales as the trusted source of the highest quality protein but some evolution is always going to be required, especially given we are selling a consumer product.
"We need to listen and respond to community priorities in order to remain on plates around the world."
In 2020 there will be an increased focus in industry engagement, including a series of webinars organised by the State Farming Organisations over the coming months and a new industry forum.
"A formalised Industry Consultative Committee Forum will be established allowing us to test approaches to sustainable business practises in partnership with beef business themselves," Mrs Herbert said.
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Darren Robertson will tell the audience today that he sees an increasing interest in better understanding production and the ethics of food.
"There seems to be a growing conversation around food sustainability at the moment. It's about getting that message across from the farmer to the consumer - so it's important that we all continue to be transparent and allow people to ask questions and be curious so that they're interested in being a part of this conversation," he said.
"There's now a realisation that the beef industry is heading in the right direction."
Launching the 2020 Annual Update on behalf of the Sustainability Steering Group, Mrs Herbert will highlight key achievements from the report, including:
- Properties covered by biosecurity plans increasing from 25pc to 90pc
- A further 4.6pc reduction in carbon accounts in the last year and a reduction since the baseline year of 2005 of 56.7pc on the road to carbon neutrality by 2030
- Pain relief use has been increasing since becoming commercially available three years ago and moved from 15pc to 21pc in the last year.
- 59pc of feedlots voluntarily have developed antimicrobial plans - further demonstrating to our customers the good story Australia has to tell in this area; and
- From a framework perspective there is now got data for 84pc of the indicators.
The Annual Update can be downloaded here.