New Beef Roadmap Highlights Benefits Of Being Greener  

UK - Beef producers who cut their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) can see improved returns of up to 50p per kg in their financial margins, new research from the English beef levy board shows.
calendar icon 7 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Quantifying the relationship between commercial performance and environmental performance for the first time is one of the key areas of study in Testing the Water - The English Beef and Sheep Production Environmental Roadmap - Phase 2, published this week by EBLEX.

The benchmarking document, which has taken a year of research to compile, also includes the first reliable water usage footprint for the beef and lamb production industry, estimates the industry's contribution to the landscape and biodiversity in England, and takes a snapshot of the energy and waste performance of the processing sector.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: "This shows us there is real potential for a greener, more sustainable industry, which is not only good for the environment, but it's good for the bank balance too," he said.

"EBLEX has shown genuine leadership in helping the livestock industry and its supply chain become more sustainable, and I look forward to seeing the roadmap continue to develop in the future as a catalyst for change."

As well as recording where we are now in these areas, Testing the Water also suggests ways that enterprises can improve their environmental performance, thus helping to cut overall the impact of livestock production on the environment in England.

"It is Phase Two of the roadmap, but very much a document of firsts in its own right," said EBLEX Chairman John Cross.

"The overall objective of this type of ongoing research is to improve the beef and sheep meat production sector's sustainability. This is achieved through identifying areas where producers and processors can take actions that have a positive effect on improving environmental performance.

"The good news is that we can now clearly demonstrate that such changes go hand-in-hand with improved economic performance. What is more challenging, as Testing the Water illustrates, is that there is still much more that needs to be done to reduce our carbon footprint.

"The first two phases of the roadmap, taken together as they should be, give the most comprehensive view to date of the impact English beef and sheep production has on our environment. As such, I view them as two parts of a unique climate change reference guide.

"I take great pride in saying that Phase Two breaks new ground, but because of this, there is little direct comparison with Phase One - Change in the Air - which focuses on GHGs and energy use. This doesn't mean that Phase One is somehow superseded or forgotten. It is more a case that change takes time and to re-evaluate exactly the same metrics after just a year has little value. Five years down the line, with a suite of benchmarking data, it may be a different story."

Key findings in the second EBLEX red meat roadmap include:

  • 67 litres of blue* water needed to produce one kg of beef
  • 50p per kg improvement in beef producers' financial margin per 5kg CO2 eq reduction in GHG emissions per kg of liveweight
  • 4 million litres of water used each year in beef and sheep slaughtering and processing.
(* blue water is water that could reasonably be used for other purposes, eg taken from the piped supply. )

Testing the Water - the EBLEX beef and sheep production environmental roadmap phase two - can be downloaded at  

Change in the Air - phase one of the roadmap - can be downloaded from the same location.

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