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The Belgian Meat Sector’s Pursuit of Sustainability

The Belgian Meat Sector's Pursuit of Sustainability Belgium, business, EU, fish and savoury ingredients, meat, Proteins, regulation, Sustainability, Transparency and supply chain Food and Beverage Business

Michael Gore, managing director at FEBEV, recently discussed a new sustainability scheme among Belgian meat producers at the Belgian Meat Office’s round table in Brussels. The scheme, which became compulsory in July, aims to address the increasing regulations surrounding sustainability in the food and beverage industry. FEBEV is Belgium’s national industry association for red meat, representing the interests of various meat processing facilities.

Gore shared, “The problem that we face is a multi-levelled issue. There’s a whole range of European regulations coming into force that impact our businesses, such as those related to deforestation and forced labor. Our observations indicate that many smaller companies in the meat industry believe sustainability is only relevant to larger producers. However, this mindset is problematic because smaller businesses often supply larger players who are obligated to communicate their sustainability efforts.”

To address these concerns, FEBEV introduced a sustainability monitoring tool to ensure its members are actively working towards sustainable practices. The tool includes a minimum yearly audit and focuses on key United Nations sustainable development goals, including renewable energy, animal welfare, and social commitment. Third-party audits help verify the accuracy of the data provided by businesses.

Gore further explained, “We built our monitoring tool around main themes such as labor, biosecurity, and animal welfare. Its purpose is to collect sound data, strengthen our messaging, and prevent any potential attacks on our credibility. By collecting data from all businesses, we can create benchmarks and provide individual companies with specific advice on areas needing improvement.”

Improving sustainability scores can be achieved through initiatives like investing in renewable energy or enhancing production processes. FEBEV’s next step is to analyze the program’s progress after one year of compulsory participation and refine calculation methods as necessary.

Gore emphasized their ultimate goal as demonstrating the meat industry’s capability to be sustainable. He stated, “We need a common approach and data to prove our sustainability. By bringing forth evidence, we can defend our position in the face of authorities and highlight our industry’s sustainable practices.”

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