27 July, 2020
Grassfed beef eaters get what they pay for
Conscious consumers have been buoyed by the recent announcement the new-look welfare certification program for Australian grass-fed beef, Australian Certified Humane, has appointed Andrew Little and Livestock Integrity Solutions Australasia (LISA) as third-party auditors of the standard. Australian Certified Humane owner and founder Alisdair Robertson, Emerald, said the auditing system together with a MasterCard Provenance blockchain network would allow Queensland consumers to finally get what they pay for in the grass-fed beef space.
“Australian Certified Humane labeling quickly and easily offers consumers the information they are looking for in the supermarket aisle” Mr Robertson said.
“The public can immediately access verifiable details of the animal’s life and confirm where the animal was born, grass-fed and humanely raised.
“Those graziers who take pride in the article they produce, implementing humane and empathetic husbandry practices for stock and practicing sound environmental management of the land on which they farm, will also be able to tell their story” Mr Robertson said.
Mr Robertson said engaging with LISA and now MasterCard Provenance would serve to strengthen the Australian Certified Humane standard and revolutionise the beef supply chain.
“I believe this is the first and only auditable welfare standard for beef cattle that has been developed by an Australian for Australian conditions” Mr Robertson said.
“Fresh Supply Co has also been contracted to capture all Australian Certified Humane data to the MasterCard Provenance blockchain, ensuring that consumers get the independent, third party audited, grass fed ACH product they pay for.”
Fresh Supply Co CEO and Co-Founder David Inderias said the blockchain would uphold the provenance, standards, food safety and authenticity of products throughout the supply chain.
“By partnering with MasterCard Provenance, we will bring the speed, scalability and security of financial systems to this space” Mr Inderias said.
In 2019, Meat and Livestock Australia reported the Australian livestock sector could be set to lose up to $3.2 billion by 2030 if it failed to meet changing consumer attitudes to animal welfare. Mr Robertson said Australian Certified Humane had been developed in response to a number of spurious claims made by the meat industry and its failure to meet consumer expectations thus far.
“Whether it be so-called free range pork, where animals are fed in a forced, sedentary environment in a ‘free-range’ piggery that has never been free-range, or whether it be free-range chicken, in which meat chickens, once again, are literally force fed in a confined, sedentary environment. These products would not meet consumer expectations” Mr Robertson said.
Australian Certified Humane is driven by Mr Robertson’s life’s work across all tiers of the beef supply chain.
“Looking back over almost half a century, I have been involved in many areas of animal raising, handling, transportation, meat processing and retailing as a cattle producer, butcher, beef retailer, restaurateur and wholesaler” Mr Robertson said.
“Some of my earliest memories involved my Dad trapping wild goats at the now private wildlife reserve, Arkaroola, in remote South Australia in the late 1960s. Whilst I was growing up, Dad managed sheep and cattle properties across all the mainland states and territories in Australia except Western Australia and the ACT” Mr Robertson said.
“Much later as a retailer, I discovered the challenges involved in securing a consistent supply of good product from producers and wholesalers, products that have the sort of brand integrity you would be comfortable standing behind as both a human and a businessperson.”
Mr Robertson said Australian Certified Humane would develop a network of certified producers who comply with Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and a range of additional conditions related to polled genetics, pain relief, water infrastructure and drought management strategies.
“The standard requires a level of commitment in regards to the health and wellbeing of grass-fed beef to be over and above the generic industry standards” Mr Robertson said.
The standards are outlined in a 31 page strategy and require total compliance throughout the course of an animal’s life.
Mr Robertson said Australian Certified Humane would embark on a marketing campaign to drive interest in welfare certification with Australian producers and to educate consumers and retailers about the program.
“The aim is to have 200 Australian Certified Humane accredited cattle producers audited by the end of 2021, of course recognising the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
“We also plan to develop third party auditable welfare standards for other animals, starting with sheep. The Australian Certified Humane accreditation system is equally applicable to any animal protein and can benefit their agricultural traceability supply chains” Mr Robertson said.
In March 2019 Andrew Little formed Livestock Integrity Solutions Australasia specialising in the provision of on-farm certification programs. Mr Little is one of only three people in Australia trained and currently certified as an Animal Welfare auditor under the United States’ PACCO animal welfare auditor program.
“Alisdair first engaged us close to a year ago, when he was in the process of seeking out a certification body which matched his own personal goals and objectives” Mr Little said.
Mr Little brings with him a wealth of knowledge in livestock and the red meat industry, having been raised on a sheep and cattle property in the central King Country of New Zealand. In 1979 he commenced work in the meat processing industry.
“I have felt for a long time that consumer expectations are growing” Mr Little said.
“Without independent animal welfare certification, producers just won’t get a look-in at domestic and international meat markets.”
Most recently, Mr Little established the Australian and New Zealand Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Farm Animal Welfare certification program and conducted the first-ever GAP sheep farm audit globally.
“So many producers want to do the right thing and are doing the right thing, but they don’t know how they can prove that to the buyer” Mr Little said.
“Australian Certified Humane is a vehicle for that.”
Mr Robertson said his almost decade-long development of Australian Certified Humane would continue with studies in poultry and dairy.
“We’re currently in the process of developing a third-party auditable standard for an Australian outdoor meat chicken” Mr Robertson said.
“We have a group in Southern Queensland working with genetics to develop a bird to suit Australian conditions, as opposed to the typical American white bird variety.”
“Following on from that, we are also working with a number of beef, camel and goat dairies to create third party auditable welfare standards for their organic milk and milk products” Mr Robertson said.
“It’s so important that as attitudes change, we grab the bull by the horns here” Andrew Little said.
“Those early adopters of welfare certification will be the real winners.”