New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef launched

Tony Egan Greenlea Premier Meats Ltd
Tony Egan.

Members of the New Zealand beef sector have joined a prestigious global group aiming to produce the world’s most sustainable beef.

The New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is part of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). It was launched at an event in Christchurch yesterday and has committed to ensuring the beef sector is economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sound.

Founding participants include: ANZCO, Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd (B+LNZ), Greenlea Premier Meats, Fonterra, McDonald’s, Silver Fern Farms, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and farmer food producers.

The New Zealand Roundtable (NZRSB) will work with other countries on a range of programmes and initiatives to encourage and promote sustainable beef production methods.

“The launch of this New Zealand Roundtable demonstrates our commitment to improving the sustainability of beef production by prioritising the planet, people and animals,” says Tony Egan, managing director of Greenlea Premier Meats and member of the group which established the roundtable.

“The collaborative nature of the New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is central to pulling activity together on behalf of the industry, listening better to our community voices and their views on our beef production and sharing knowledge.”

“This Roundtable will provide New Zealand with an opportunity to help shape the global dialogue on beef sustainability and contribute to the long-term viability of the beef industry.”

New Zealand has a proud history of pastoral farming built around extensive low impact grassland grazing systems for cattle, he says.

“This legacy stands our farmers in good stead as the world searches for sustainably produced, nutritious food.

“All the partners in the chain from farmers and growers through to processors, customers and the communities we work in know that the future of farming depends on looking after all aspects of sustainability – environmental, social and economic and the ways they interact and influence each other.”

Minister Damien O'Connor
Damien O’Connor is pleased to see collaboration in the sector.

The New Zealand Roundtable was officially launched by Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister for Agriculture, and Trade and Export Growth.

“I’m pleased to see collaboration across the meat sector. I believe it is an important part in growing confidence from our global consumers who are increasingly discerning about their food choices.

“With ambitions of being the world’s best food producers we need to encourage more collaboration and innovation.”

Chair of the steering committee which established the New Zealand Roundtable, Justin Courtney, says the group will report on the industry’s performance.

“The steering group carried out an independent Sustainability Materiality research project in conjunction with the Red Meat Profit Partnership this year. This process has helped to determine our sustainability issues and criteria which are material to beef production in New Zealand.”

Justin Courtney Silver Fern Farms Ltd
Justin Courtney, Silver Fern Farms chaired the steering group for the New Zealand Roundtable.

“We are aiming to produce the world’s most sustainable beef. This work will help us develop a framework that lays out the measures against standards, identify gaps for further work, and report on our progress to our community.

“We will shortly be calling on people and groups who are interested in being part of the Roundtable to become members. We want views from across the beef value chain.”

Members of the GRSB commit to the global beef value chain managing natural resources responsibly and enhancing ecosystem health. They also respect and manage animals to ensure their health and welfare.

They also focus on the safety and quality of beef products, utilise information-sharing systems that promote beef sustainability, encourage innovation, optimise production, reduce waste and add to economic viability.

Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, chair of the GRSB, says the group’s work is global in nature and brings together a range of national initiatives.

“It is through the national initiatives that we are able to create impact on the ground, as the nature of beef production varies widely according to the environmental and cultural conditions in which they operate. The challenges in each region are different and so are the solutions.

“The beef industry is developing capabilities to improve sustainability regionally and globally. That trend has continued apace.

“The global beef sustainability movement has made great strides to demonstrate to the world that the beef sector cares about its role in the world, in communities, and in looking after the environment, as well as providing safe and nutritious food for the world’s growing population.”

New Zealand companies and organisations who have been instrumental in setting up the New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef are: ANZCO Foods;Beef & Lamb New Zealand Limited; Greenlea Premier Meats; Fonterra; McDonald’s; Meat Industry Association; Silver Fern Farms; World Wide Fund for Nature; and Northland farmer David Kidd.

B+LNZ welcomes launch

B+LNZ has welcomed the launch of the New Zealand Roundtable, says chief executive Sam McIvor.

“The NZRSB’s mission and vision aligns with our focus on sustainable beef production,” he says. “Sustainability is at the heart of our grass-fed extensive low-impact production system in New Zealand.

“Our farmers produce low emissions food in partnership with the environment. This is illustrated by our red meat sector reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent since 1990 and halving its nitrogen emissions during the same period. We’re committed to adding no additional warming and becoming climate neutral by 2050.

“We work with the rhythms of nature in that most of the water we use to grow our sheep and beef farms is from rainfall.

“What’s more, biodiversity is at the heart of how we farm. Nearly a quarter of all New Zealand’s native vegetation is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms, the largest amount of native vegetation outside of public conservation land, with around 1.4 million hectares of vegetation being native forest.

“The launch of the New Zealand chapter is focused on not only sustainability within the farm gate, but through the whole value chain to our customers. It’s a good example of the sector collaborating to ensure the long-term viability of the beef industry,” says McIvor.

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) was formed in 2012 and covers the major beef producing countries of the world. It is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative that advances the sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

GRSB consists of 75 members in five constituencies: producers and producer associations, the commerce and processing sector, retail companies, civil societies, and national or regional roundtables.

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