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CBSA pilot shows steady third-quarter growth

Sustainability: News Roundup from the September 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Third-quarter results from the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration (CBSA) pilot prove that this program is steadily increasing its supply of sustainably raised beef.

Cargill recently announced that the CBSA pilot’s third quarter saw the production of more than one million pounds of beef sourced from certified sustainable producers. This is nearly double the initial volume produced in the pilot’s first quarter, which yielded 550,000 pounds of beef. The second quarter’s volume was more than 600,000 lbs.

To date, more than 2.2 million pounds of certified sustainable beef has been produced through the CBSA pilot, according to its website. The standards used to certify the beef comply with the framework established by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

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“Much of this increase is thanks to diligent efforts of the pilot partners to update their systems, records and processes to allow for chain-of-custody tracking that meets the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s standards,” said Gurneesh Bhandal, Cargill Protein Canada’s sustainability manager.

“We are also seeing organic growth. Steadily increasing retail and food-service demand is helping motivate producer participation, and more operations are registering to be audited by Verified Beef Production Plus (or Where Food Comes From, Inc.). It is this growth in certified operations that will increase the number of qualifying cattle and beef volume in the long term.”

There were 2.3 times more certified producers in the third quarter than the quarter before.

Emily Murray who manages the Cargill Meat Solutions sales of beef patties to McDonald’s in Canada and the U.S., says there is a clear need for more cow-calf operations within the chain.

In the third quarter they could have sourced 1.5 million more pounds of sustainable beef if every certified cow-calf operation had delivered to a certified feedlot. So there is room for more feedlots. However, had there been enough cow-calf units to fill the current capacity of certified feedlots, they would have generated 9.5 million more pounds. And even that would not have been enough to satisfy the present demand.

Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell a senior manager with McDonald’s Canada told the recent Beef Industry Conference in London, Ont., that he would like to someday see all of the 70 million pounds they buy annually in Canada be a certified sustainable product.

Cargill is already in the process of auditing its Guelph, Ont. plant to open the pilot project up to producers in Eastern Canada.

The third-quarter credits to participating producers are $18.52 per head, down slightly from the $20.11 per head payments of the second quarter but well above the $10 per head paid out in the first quarter.

The credits paid each quarter are based on cattle weights, the amount of qualifying animals processed and demand from participating customers. Producer credits are made possible by partnering retailers, which currently include McDonald’s Canada, Loblaws, Original Joe’s, Swiss Chalet and Cactus Club.

The CBSA pilot was launched in 2017 to create a consistent supply chain of verified sustainable Canadian beef, targeting production standards from the cow-calf operation to processing. The pilot is continuing its efforts to increase awareness about the program through its presence at industry events and on social media platforms.

“There is strong interest from our retail and food-service customers and we have clear demand for beef from certified sustainable sources. Now we have the infrastructure established to help us deliver against this demand,” said Bhandal.

“This also demonstrates to producers that there is long-term value in the industry’s efforts on beef sustainability, because if we continue to see increased participation from producers, then we expect the momentum to keep growing, which helps us meeting our ultimate goal of building consumer trust in the Canadian beef industry.”

The fourth quarter of the pilot will see the launch of the Certified Sustainable Beef logo for Canadian beef product labelling, said Bhandal, as well as the partners exploring long-term incentives beyond the pilot’s first year.

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