Quality assurance scheme goes green
New carbon audit aimed at giving Irish beef farmers a jump on competition
Beef farmers are about to find out just how green their production systems really are.
From next January, the 32,000 farmers in Bord Bia's Quality Assurance Scheme will be audited on the environmental sustainability of their farms.
Launched at this week's SIAL global food show in Paris, the initiative is designed to give Irish beef the edge on its international competitors in premium European markets.
Detailed pilot audits are already underway on 200 farms in conjunction with Teagasc and the Carbon Trust. These are expected to be completed by the end of November, when researchers will have established exactly how many kilogrammes of CO2 equivalent are generated per kilo of beef in the various production systems that exist in Ireland. More than 70pc of Irish beef will then have its own 'carbon count' benchmark.
The system will be the first of its kind in the world and beef industry bosses are confident that it will prove to be a hit with consumers.
"Sustainability is hot with consumers at the moment," said Dawn Meats chief Dan Brown. "When it comes to sustainability, Ireland will easily be top of the class."
When asked if this would help Irish beef prices, Mr Brown said that he hoped the initiative would boost returns for Irish beef by increasing its share of the premium market.
Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter added that even in recessionary times consumers were still willing to pay extra for food produced in an environmentally sustainable way.