Silver Fern Farms is poised to launch its first carbon-zero certified beef in the United States this month.
Silver Fern Farms, Aotearoa’s largest meet processor and marketer, is joining the handful of New Zealand food and beverage companies which measure the impact of their products on the climate “from cradle to grave”, commit to reducing the impact as close to zero as possible, and offset what can’t be reduced through the internationally accredited programme run by Toitū Envirocare, a subsidiary of Government-owned Crown Research Institute Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.
Fonterra, chicken producer Waitoa, beverage company Lion, wine group Yealands and bottled water company Antipodes also have Toitū carbon-zero certified products.
Toitū product manager Austin Hansell says consumers can have faith that companies with a Toitū certification are genuinely trying to do better and have a better impact on the planet.
“This really gives the consumer a sense that that impact has been understood, and is being addressed. You can feel good that it is being neutralised,” she says.
“They are taking it seriously and they’re setting a real commitment. It really sends a strong signal that that business is committed to being here for the long haul.”
To achieve the Toitū certification for its beef, Silver Fern Farms had to look at how it is produced on farm, processed and distributed right up until it in the hands of the person who will eat it and, hopefully, recycle the packaging. Offsets will be linked back to the farms producing the meat through new and existing plantings.
“Consumers are really thinking hard about where their protein comes from,” says Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer. “Red meat has had a pretty bad rap over the last number of years. We’re trying to put that right.”
The carbon-zero beef will be priced at a premium, which will flow through to farmers who supply the product.
“It’s our responsibility to get as much commercial value back to farmers and reward them for the good work that they are doing,” Limmer says. “This is a means for us to connect the market back to the farms very, very directly, and incentivize and reward what they are doing well.”
And the carbon-zero beef pilot in the US is just the beginning for Silver Fern Farms. Customers in its largest market of China are also showing interest and it’s likely to roll the programme out to lamb and venison. The company also expects to offer carbon-zero meat in Aotearoa in the future, Limmer says.
“There is only one direction of travel for our industry and Silver Fern Farms wants to be out the front leading,” he says.