Between the appetite for meat and climate frustration

How do sustainable solutions find their way into the meat industry? For METRO, one thing is clear: animal welfare and climate protection can best be improved in cooperation with suppliers. Two examples are VanDrie, producer of veal and beef, and Kettyle, a specialist in dry-aged beef.

METRO’s sustainable purchasing policy

METRO has a clear vision for the procurement of raw materials and food: ‘we will be sustainable in everything we do.’ For its meat purchasing policy – as for other product categories – there is a METRO Sustainability Guideline that formulates clear standards and objectives – from animal health and feed to product traceability. METRO is committed to providing its customers with meat products that meet the highest quality and safety standards and are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Meat is popular. According to the Meat Atlas 2021, the global consumption of steak and other meat has more than doubled within 20 years. This demand will continue to grow due to population and economic growth. At the same time, however, consumers’ demands are also increasing, for example in Germany: Almost 75% of consumers demand species-appropriate animal husbandry, says the 2021 Nutrition Report. The younger generation is particularly critical, a survey by the Heinrich Böll Foundation reveals. Young adults see meat production as a threat to the climate. They eat vegetarian and vegan meals twice as often as the average population. 

Discussions on the ground

Apeldoorn in the Netherlands: here, calves are kept in spacious, well-ventilated stalls with plenty of daylight. They get milk twice a day and roughage rich in fibre. This prevents anaemia in the animals. These stables for fattening calves belong to farmers who cooperate with Ekro, a subsidiary of the Dutch VanDrie Group, which produces veal and beef. This group is one of the partners with whom METRO cooperates to increase the sustainability of meat products. 
‘We invest a lot of time in discussions with METRO and stakeholders such as farmers or NGOs,’ says Marijke Everts, Director of Corporate Affairs at the VanDrie Group. ‘In addition, we value transparency and publish an annual CSR report that addresses critical questions – ranging from “How can antibiotic usage be reduced?” to “What is VanDrie doing to protect the climate?”’.

Strict quality controls

All calf farmers with whom VanDrie cooperates have to meet strict requirements in terms of animal welfare and use of animal medicine. These requirements are monitored by the independent Foundation for Quality Guarantee of the Veal Sector (Stichting Kwaliteitsgarantie Vleeskalveren, SKV). ‘Thanks to the SKV, we can guarantee that our veal is produced without undesirable, growth-promoting substances,’ Everts explains. In addition, the Safety Guard quality assurance system ensures high standards throughout the production chain. It also enables complete traceability from farmer to shop counter. ‘A single piece of meat can be traced just as easily as every ingredient in the animal feed,’ says Everts.

At a glance: VanDrie Group

The Dutch VanDrie Group is a family-owned company operating worldwide. The group includes calf husbandries, dairy raw material and calf feed producers, as well as calf slaughtering and calf skin processing plants. In terms of sustainability, METRO CZ is currently working together with Ekro, a VanDrie subsidiary. In addition, METRO’s Rotterdam Trading Office is cooperating with VanDrie’s subsidiary T. Boer & zn. Together, these partners are dedicated to the METRO Chef Veal project.

The biggest challenge is decreasing carbon emissions in the production chain. To this end, VanDrie is pursuing various approaches. Intelligent technologies aim to reduce emissions in calf husbandry.

The research and development team is researching the effect of feed in relation to for example the reduction of methane via the use of supplements. There is a participate in different research projects concerning new technologies in stables to reduce nitrogen emissions.  In addition, the company is striving for efficient circulation solutions, for example, to make optimal use of residual heat.

Best meat from the Emerald Isle

Change of scene: in the middle of the hilly landscape of the Irish Kerry Hills, small groups of cattle graze on lush meadows. This is where Kettyle produces gourmet beef. Thanks to its mild climate and fertile soil, these animals can spend most of the year on the pastures. ‘Our natural grass advantage provides a good basis for producing our beef, which is among the most environmentally sustainable in the world,’ says Maurice Kettyle, Director at Kettyle.

At a glance: Kettyle

Kettyle Irish Food, a company headquartered in Fermanagh, Ireland, is a specialist in dry-aged beef that is matured in salt moss chambers. Kettyle is part of the Linden Food Group, a fresh meat processing company that sources and processes beef and lamb for customers worldwide. Together with METRO, Kettyle is working to harmonise initiatives and certificates pertaining to sustainable meat production and communicating them to the outside world. Kettyle works with RTO based in the Netherlands supplying fresh and frozen salt aged beef to 11 Metro Countries as well as to Classic Fine Foods Hongkong and Classic Fine Foods United Arab Emirates. A close and ever evolving relationship has been developed with the team to be the best in our sector. Sustainability is always to foremost in all new concepts and strategies.

In search of innovations

Climate protection is the biggest challenge for Kettyle as well. ‘Our meat has a carbon footprint that is only half the global average,’ says Kettyle. ‘Nevertheless, we’re doing everything we can to reduce our emissions further.’ Working with our farming partners we are consistently challenging them on a more sustainable future and embracing the research from our 2 state of the art research farms. Together we focus on energy efficiencies, genetics and a cleaner way of working, while utilising better the natural resources we have. 

The company examines its entire supply chain – from farm to end consumer. ‘For instance, we use technologies in processing to reuse water and recover heat,’ says Kettyle. ‘We’re also working with METRO to reduce our packaging’s plastic content and use more recyclable materials.’

Kettyle focuses on research and development. A current study, for example, is investigating the issue of whether the feed conversion of cattle can be improved via breeding so that they’re ready for slaughter more quickly. This would significantly reduce the carbon footprint. Thus, on the road to more sustainability all possibilities are far from exhausted. METRO is taking this journey together with its partners.

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