Coles will be the first major Australian supermarket to offer a carbon-neutral beef product line, as it seeks to tap into rising demand from consumers for sustainable products.
Agriculture is one of the world’s largest sources of emissions, prompting calls for consumers to reduce meat consumption in a bid to aid global efforts to meet net zero emissions by 2050.
A growing number of Australians are consuming less meat, while those continuing their eating habits are increasingly looking for sustainable products.
Seeking to respond to evolving consumer trends, Coles will roll-out a carbon-neutral beef line in its Victorian stores – which will then be rolled out nationally over the coming year.
“Coles Finest Certified Carbon-Neutral Beef is a testament to the hard work of our beef producers and their commitment to sustainable practices, and we’re thrilled that they’re taking this important step with us,” said Coles CEO Steven Cain.
Coles said the carbon-neutral threshold has been secured by working with farmers to reduce emissions, while carbon that is unable to be abated has been offset by the purchase of Australian Carbon Credit Units from the Armoobilla Regeneration Project in south-west Queensland.
Coles said the carbon-neutral product line will be the same price as its traditional Coles Finest product line.
Across the supply chain
Coles has been working with a group of cattle farmers in Victoria and New South Wales to reduce their carbon footprint, aiding graziers to reduce emissions through increased renewable energy, changing herd management practices for more efficient reproduction and to maximise growth, and use of genetic selection to improve herd health.
Emissions from this group are 19 per cent below the national average, Coles said.
“This is just the start of the journey. A lot of work has been done through the supply chain, but we believe it will create a lot more in shaving more of the footprint be it transport or refrigeration,” Stephen Rennie, Coles National Livestock Manager told The Australian Financial Review.
“Initially we are going to have to rely on ACCUs but we are excited about working with farmers to reduce emissions even more.”
Coles is looking particularly at ways to plant trees and vegetation to reduce net carbon emissions on beef farms through carbon sequestration, a process known as carbon “insetting”, in which the process of reducing emissions is carried out at or directly related to their source.
As a result, Mr Rennie said it was not possible to determine how many ACCUs would be needed if the product line was rolled-out nationally as it looks to reduce farms output while it also increases its beef stocks.
Mark Ritchie, a cattle grazier in Delatite in Victoria and one of the farmers involved in the project, said the work with Coles allowed them to reduce emissions while also increasing productivity.
“Efficiency of production is vital. We don’t want to be carrying passengers. We know where we stand now in terms of our carbon emissions, and we know the work in front of us to reduce them even more,” Mr Ritchie, who runs 2500 head of cattle, told the Financial Review.
The packaging for the new beef range is fully recyclable and made from 90 per cent recycled and plant-based sources, Coles said.
Extracted from AFR