Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Beef Supply Chains: Significant Opportunities for Reductions and Supply Chain Leadership

Beef supply chains account for about 6% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, of which about half are accounted for by the beef production stage of the supply chain. New and emerging technologies and management practices, covering feed production, cattle breeding, cattle feeding, and soil and pasture management, all offer significant opportunities to reduce emissions. Reduction of global beef supply chain emissions can be also achieved by transferring best practices from the most efficient beef supply chains to less efficient ones.

Report summary

Food and agribusiness (F&A) company commitments to lower the supply chain GHG emissions of beef and other animal proteins are on the rise. Rabobank believes that in most regions these initiatives are likely to be more effective drivers of action than government regulations. To remain the driving force, market-based approaches will need to demonstrate progress, otherwise they will be replaced by regulation.

Beef supply chain emissions can be reduced by more than 30% by 2030 in major markets, including Europe, North America, Brazil, Argentina, and Oceania. The highest reductions are expected in the upstream feed production and cattle production stages of the chain. And if action can be accelerated through technology developments or clearer incentives, emissions could be reduced by up to 40% by 2030 in these major markets.

F&A companies need to set ambitious goals to reduce emissions, promote innovation, and enable supply chain partners to work together to achieve their goals. There is also a need for explicit recognition and reward for emissions reduction.