What's in the news right now about an environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable beef value chain?

Executive Director's Message:

Beef exports have been making headlines for both volume and value of late. US exports were the highest ever in 2021, in both volume and value according to the US Meat Export Federation.

Australia, in stark contrast, saw low exports in 2021 due to rebuilding the herd that had been liquidated due to drought, which benefited New Zealand at least in terms of volume.

North America continues to face drought and no doubt that contributes to declining herd numbers in the US, but there are many factors including calf costs vs returns that contribute to the contrasting picture for the two regions.

So, with demand strong, how much of a role does sustainability play in exports? Bord Bia surveyed consumers in the UAE recently and found that many consumers there have been making efforts to buy more sustainably produced food, and they see that Ireland has potential to capitalise on that trend. Similar research undertaken by Bord Bia in the UK shows that consumers there are also increasingly concerned with sustainability.

Interestingly, it does not appear that sustainability concerns are driving a significant move to plant based products, and even if they did, that it would automatically impact meat production. Of course at the moment, the price of plant based products probably precludes widespread replacement. A recent study suggests that even if prices fell, it might not have much of an effect on beef production, in any case.

This recent article by Frédéric Lefroy and colleagues points out the hazards of reductionist approaches to nutrition ( or “nutritionism” as they call it), resulting in problematic issues such as “disproportionate stigmatisation of animal-source foods as harmful for human and planetary health.”

I also recommend this blog examining the role of animal source foods in ethical, sustainable and healthy diets, established by Frédéric Lefroy with contributions from many experts.


You may recall that in our 2019 Communications Summit, we heard from Howard Parry Husbands of Pollinate, who undertook a meta-analysis of consumer surveys from around the world provided by our members.

Howard recently told me that one trend he has observed since the advent of the pandemic is “guilt fatigue.” Consumers are tired of being told what they must not do. They want to be able to enjoy the things that they have enjoyed throughout their lives, whether that is travel or eating meat. They appear to be looking for ways to enjoy those things in guilt-free ways, i.e., sustainable travel or meat, which, as long as it is affordable, is a win-win for the consumer.

We are planning another Communicators Summit immediately prior to our Global Conference on Sustainable Beef in November (taking place in Denver). I would very much like to update that meta-analysis with Pollinate as it seems certain to show some marked changes from the previous one, and given the findings that Howard and Bord Bia have seen, these changes are likely to be significant for beef with sustainability credentials.

We’ll be taking a look at some retail case studies in our March webinar that I hope will also give some pointers to trends retailers are seeing and how that influences their marketing of sustainability.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
February 23, 2022

One of the biggest challenges facing the world today is climate change. To support the urgent global ambition of limiting worldwide temperature increases to 1.5 degrees by 2030, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has set a suite of ambitious goals around climate, land use and animal welfare.

“In support of GRSB’s climate ambitions, there is a clear and urgent need to benchmark and measure improvements in beef – one of the most complex and diverse food systems globally” says Courtney Hall of World Wildlife Fund and Chair of the GRSB Climate Working Group.

It has become evident that the wide range of numbers reported are a result of differing methodologies and data, leading to inconsistencies. This poses a danger of confusion and contradiction, which could create a false impression that the industry is failing to actively engage with the issue of climate change.

For this reason, the GRSB Beef Carbon Footprint guideline was developed to allow for sector-wide alignment in the calculation of carbon footprint in the life cycle of beef cattle.

Brenna Grant, Chair of the GRSB Climate Science sub-committee notes, “creating consistency and a clear message is important for building trust in the global beef industry. It also highlights the elevated level of engagement that exists in relation to climate change mitigation, and to identify practices that will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Resources on the Beef Carbon Footprint Guidelines are available at:

By developing an internationally harmonized methodology for calculating the carbon footprint of beef, the GRSB is aiming to support the production of consistent and aligned carbon footprint figures for beef internationally. In turn, this will support the evolution of efficient and sustainable businesses that are on a pathway to climate neutrality by continually reducing their GHG emissions.

The GRSB and its stakeholders would like to thank contributors to the Global Beef Sustainability Acceleration Fund.

Excellent Prospects for Mercosur Beef Exports, Except Argentina   
Mercro Press  |  February 10, 2022

The drop in Argentine beef shipments were motivated by the high price of the product in the domestic market, and thus the government suspended all exports in May 2021.

Further measures were implemented, and given the deteriorating economic situation of Argentina and its impact on inflation, the country’s export ban on certain beef cuts was extended until the end of 2023.

Wildfires in Northeastern Argentina Burn 8,000 sq km   
TRT World |  February 20, 2022

Wildfires continue to spread through Corrientes province, scarring farmlands and killing protected animals and plants in major Ibera National Park.

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