New Zealand's red meat sector bets on environmental credentials
Meat consumption is a hot topic all over the world nowadays but there are certain benefits for those who can prove that they produce the meat by showing respect for the environment and animal welfare, believes Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Chairman Andrew Morrison.
The organisation is currently implementing its "Taste Pure Nature" program, designed to represent red meat exports overseas in front of so-called “Conscious Foodies”.
"Meat’s role in the diet is under scrutiny because of environmental and animal welfare concerns, but there is also growing demand for grass-fed, naturally raised beef and lamb, which is what New Zealand produces. We are uniquely placed to capitalise on these growing trends and more strategically position our product in the market," explained Mr Morrison during the Annual Meeting of B+LNZ.
At the beginning of this year, the EAT-Lancet report has slashed waves of criticism from the meat industry. Nevertheless, B+LNZ saw a good opportunity to show that, in fact, the red meat industry has already adopted many of the measures recommended by the authors.
"New Zealand is already adopting many of the strategies recommended by the report’s authors including committing to healthy diet goals, reorienting agricultural priorities to producing high-quality healthy food in a sustainable way and supporting biodiversity. It is also important to remember EAT-Lancet is making many of its recommendations based on farming systems not commonly used in New Zealand such as grain-fed livestock production when in fact we are a world leader in producing grass-fed red meat", declared at that time Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Chief Insight Officer, Jeremy Baker.
At the same time, B+LNZ doe not agree with the idea of supporting a plant-based diet. "We support a range of healthy dietary patterns with and without meat, however, I have concerns that the suggested reduction could have implications for vulnerable groups especially young women who may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies. Advocating a plant-based diet is not new and is something Beef + Lamb New Zealand has been advising for over two decades. Our advice has always been to ensure when eating red meat, that three-quarters of your plate is made up of plant-based foods," explained B+LNZ Head of Nutrition, Fiona Greig.
Last year, B+LNZ launched its environment strategy with the goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and Chairman Andrew Morrison thinks that the importance of the environmental credentials in underpinning the work Taste Pure Nature will do to build preference for New Zealand beef and lamb overseas. "Over the past couple of decades, our focus was on being the most productive and efficient producers in the world. Going forward, we need to remain productive but everything has to have an environmental perspective," he added.