Beef + Lamb New Zealand has undertaken a survey on the future of New Zealand’s red meat sector and identified revamping its environmental message as one of seven “priority areas”.

The report says the industry “need[s] to shift the global conversation around sustainability” to “allow us to capture greater value from livestock agricultural production, model practices that are better for the planet, secure the social licence to operate, and increase the profits we derive from our products”.

“There is an opportunity to both enhance our sustainable behaviour, as well as better telling our sector sustainability narrative, turning it into a unique selling point for NZ red meat.”

Beef + Lamb downplayed efforts to actually improve the sustainability of the industry and instead highlighted the need to improve its messaging. “While certainly there are actions around ensuring the sector is best-in-class around sustainable practice, there is a job to be done around better packaging of our story, and communicating it to the world,” the report states.

Over the next year, the lobby group wants to see farmers “phase out farming practices that are inconsistent with the basics of sustainability” and “be able to convincingly talk about the sustainability benefits of chosen farming methods”. At the same time, meat exporters and marketers should review their use of plastic packaging and “elevate a sustainable supply chain into an attribute that consumers will want to pay more for”.

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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