Page 43 - Food & Drink Business Magazine March 2019
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offsetting their own products, James Madden says.
Greenham Tasmania, which makes Cape Grim Beef and Robbins Island Wagyu, contributed to the project with credits from its own on-site carbon offset projects. This company reduced its emissions by 90 per cent by converting the boiler that generates heat and steam for the abattoir from coal to pyrethrum briquettes, which are a byproduct of natural pesticide production.
The company’s pork supplier Rivalea Australia, maker of free range St Bernards Pork, likewise now powers its plant from biogas captured from wastewater.
Ultimately, moves like this will change the way Flinders + Co selects suppliers in the future, according to Madden.
“If a supplier has already gone carbon neutral, we don’t have to buy offsets for their product. This means we can offer them a premium, and pass the benefits down the supply chain, which will ultimately drive on-farm change.”
The aim is therefore to encourage other suppliers to look critically at their supply chains and see how they can start to think more ‘carbon neutral’.
The approach can also stack up commercially, Madden notes, with ethically aware millennials now representing 50 per cent of the total workforce.
Now, when its customers buy its meat products, they can also market it as carbon neutral, whether that’s directly communicated via their waiting staff, on menus or on their website.
Among its customers, Vue de Monde, Stokehouse and quick service group Laneway Greens have embraced the offering and are leveraging it to promote their sustainability credentials to diners, although Madden stresses it pays
to get the messaging right to hit the right note.
“You need to make sure you’re not too preachy about it. You don’t want to foist your priorities on anyone. People
are entitled to believe what they like,” Madden says.
“We still need to work on how we educate front of house staff as they sometimes get curly questions.”
The vegan community and climate change sceptics, for instance, are two key groups that are not receptive to the
carbon neutral message, he says, and there are other detractors when it comes to the company’s approach.
“Some say we are cheating
by buying offsets, and I understand that point of view. But while our solution isn’t perfect, it’s the best way we could think of to start the process for our industry in order to attract a premium from the consumer and then pass it down the supply chain.
“That’s what will convince farmers, and also the processors, to go this way.”
And when that happens, Madden says, the company will have achieved its main aim to “one day look back and say that together we made a real difference – for the better”.
“It’s so important that all of our competitors, suppliers, and even customers jump on
board and come along on this journey with us – and take real action against climate change,” Madden says. “The key is to drive price signals down the supply chain to provide economical reasons for everyone to change processes, and our goal is to give them that incentive to change what doing on the farm, and in their processing.
“We can pay a premium for doing it that way, as the consumer is asking for it.
But we can’t do that until we can demonstrate it, and that’s why we’ve put the cart before the horse by going down the offset path.”
So while the company still puts carbon out here and sucks it out over there, at least it is still net neutral.
“In time, we want to see carbon emissions reduced across our supply chain.” ✷
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