New Zealand Grass-fed Beef and Lamb Carbon Footprint Among Lowest in the World
New life cycle assessment study reveals significant reductions in carbon emissions
LOS ANGELES, November 10, 2022 – A new study conducted by global experts confirms New Zealand is one of the most efficient beef and lamb producers globally. The carbon footprint of New Zealand lamb is 14.73 lbs. CO2e / lb. meat and New Zealand beef is 21.94 lbs. CO2e / lb. meat1. Consuming New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb 2-3 days a week for an entire year is equivalent to a road trip from Los Angeles to Houston2.
Comparing New Zealand’s on-farm emissions and cradle to grave footprint from countries around the world (12 for beef and 9 for sheep), the researchers concluded that even if New Zealand beef or lamb is exported, the total carbon footprint is lower than or very similar to domestically produced red meat in those nations. This is because New Zealand is efficient at the farm level, representing about 90-95% of the total carbon footprint. New Zealand’s on-farm footprint was almost half the average of the other countries compared to in the study.
The importance of reducing carbon emissions has never been greater. The United Nations has deemed achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 as the world’s most important mission. New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, which is a critical part of a commitment to a sustainable future. As the world’s largest lamb exporter and one of the largest beef exporters, sustainable farming is a vital part of New Zealand’s nationwide goal, and absolute GHG emissions from the country’s sheep and beef farming have decreased by 30% since 1990.
Commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study underscores the country’s commitment to regenerative agriculture practices, which creates some of the world’s most verdant farmland and sustainably, humanely raised grass-fed beef and lamb.
“Accurately measuring and reporting the environmental impact of products is critical to creating a sustainable future,” said Dr. Stewart Ledgard, lead study researcher. “LCA analyzes the full life cycle of a product, including transportation and consumption, and is an effective and important tool to help the world understand and minimize our impact on the environment.”
Conducted by global experts on life cycle assessment (LCA) of livestock systems, Dr. Stewart Ledgard, Shelley Falconer, and Dr. Andre Mazzetto, the study calculates the LCA of beef and sheep meat at each stage along the supply chain from cradle to grave.
Global consumers are seeking transparency in food products as more shoppers look for products that taste good, are sustainably raised, and have a minimal environmental impact. According to recent data, 49% of global consumers consider sustainability when purchasing food and believe it is no longer a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have.”
“We are proud of our farmers’ dedication to regenerative agriculture practices to reduce our carbon footprint and create a greener, healthier environment for this and future generations,” said Pat Maher, CEO Atkins Ranch. “Consumers in the U.S. are not only seeking delicious meat products, but they also want transparency and food that is humanely raised, grass-fed and sustainably farmed. This scientific study shows consumers can feel confident in choosing New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb.”
Understanding the Carbon Footprint Measurement
The LCA was calculated using the standard GWP100 approach for converting methane to carbon dioxide equivalent to enable valid international comparisons. As the world grapples with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality, GWP100 is the current standard of measurement used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations that reflects the relative effect of a GHG in terms of climate change considering a fixed time period, such as 100 years, compared with the same mass of carbon dioxide.
The LCA uses a “cradle to grave” approach that accounts for all GHG emissions associated with all inputs and processes at all stages of the lifecycle. It includes wastes and end-of-life emissions (e.g. from packaging, food-waste and effluents) as well as shipping and transportation.
About Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Beef + Lamb New Zealand is an industry organization representing and supporting New Zealand’s beef and sheep farmers. The organization aims to raise awareness of grass-fed and pasture-raised beef and lamb from New Zealand, with a focus on delivering information and education on its benefits under the Taste Pure Nature® origin brand. When consumers see the Taste Pure Nature® logo, they can expect the best of New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb. For more information, visit www.beefandlambnz.com and follow us on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter at @beefandlambnz.
1 Calculated using the standard GWP100 approach for converting methane to carbon dioxide equivalent to enable valid international comparisons.
2 Equivalent of driving 1,500 miles.