When it comes to the issue of sustainability in food production, the meat sector is often at the forefront of criticism and blame, but few people know the efforts being made to end unsustainable meat production by exploring and adopting new ways of working. Chief Executive, Gary Smith, explains some of the ways DB Foods is contributing to a sustainable meat industry.
When it comes to balancing the demands of current consumers and economic growth with the wellbeing for future generations and the environment, sustainability in the meat industry always seems to be, at best, an example and, at worst, a target for the need for change. Because of that, it is hugely frustrating that the amount of effort being put into meat production sustainability gets comparatively little recognition or credit.
After many months of private discussion, research and improvements, DB Foods went public last year with its commitment to the sustainability of meat production. The initiative, entitled ‘DB Green’ was branded and publicised to represent our contribution to meat industry sustainability by reducing our carbon footprint and embracing ‘green thinking’.
There are basic facts about the meat industry that cannot be changed. For example, sustainable beef production will always start with the premise of cattle that need space, feed and management. However, as many suppliers have proved, there are greener alternatives that are contributing to beef industry sustainability – organic feed, use of arable land to help refertilise soil and local produce for local farmers.
The next issue of beef production sustainability is the subject of transportation and distribution. This is where the UK is at a disadvantage because we simply do not produce enough meat of any kind, to meet the demands of our population, so there needs to be a balance between people’s needs with sustainability.
In July 2021, we launched our ‘Eco Taskforce’ and one of its first projects was to explore electric vehicles. We sourced and purchased our first electric car, and since then have been continually adding to our fleet in order to reduce our use of fuel to compensate for what is currently needed to bring meat to the UK.
Our headquarters and distribution centres have dramatically stepped up their recycling programmes, and we have embraced technology to go paperless through the use of IT Cloud-based systems.
For customers, we have an expanding range of biodegradable, compostable and recyclable bags and we are funding more and more packaging alternatives to use in-house and recommend to suppliers.
We are also proud to work with suppliers, such as award-winning RSPCA Assured Pork Supplier, Cameron Naughton whose practices at West End Farm are contributing to sustainable meat production (see more at www.dbfoods.co.uk/supplier-partnerships).
Our sustainability agenda has also seen the introduction of schemes staff can get involved in, such as tree-planting and we are looking into a cycle to work scheme.
DB Foods has signed up to the UK Business Climate Hub with the following pledge:
Halve the business greenhouse gas emissions before 2030
Achieve net zero emissions before 2050
Formally disclose progress on a yearly basis
At the end of the day, it is about doing out bit. Finding alternatives to create meat industry sustainability is not easy and often requires investment, but we are determined to make our contribution in any way we can.