Australian beef industry’s sustainability report card released

Australian beef industry’s sustainability report card released

May 04 2021

Australian beef industry’s sustainability report card released

Animal welfare practices and tracking the industry’s sustainability credentials are top of mind for beef producers, according to the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF) latest annual update.

The latest Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF) annual update, the fourth since its inception, was launched at the ABSF’s seminar at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton today.

The ABSF defines sustainable beef production and tracks performance over a series of indicators annually.

Chair of the sustainability steering group for the ABSF, Tess Herbert, said despite a year of unprecedented challenges, the report card revealed that the Australian beef industry was heading in the right direction.

“The past year has been like no other – travel restrictions, lockdowns, quarantine and global disruption have disrupted supply chains and important revenue pathways,” Ms Herbert said.

“Despite the many challenges, responses to our producer sustainability survey increased four-fold demonstrating producers are more engaged with the process of promoting industry transparency and progress.

“We’ve also seen an increase in producer satisfaction, awareness of animal welfare standards and the use of regular pain relief for cattle.

Ms Herbert said by working collaboratively within industry and with our customers and investors, the framework was able to provide a clear and transparent report card on where the industry is up to in the areas they care most about.

“Extensive consultation has been undertaken to optimise indicators and collect the data not only to track performance but identify new opportunities and priority areas for the industry,” Mrs Herbert said.

Independent Chair of the Red Meat Advisory Council, John McKillop said this year marks five years since the Red Meat Advisory Council appointed the first Sustainability Steering Group in 2016 and since then many other industries have followed suit.

“The Australian beef industry is at the forefront of setting global benchmarks for animal health, welfare, environmental management and product integrity,” Mr McKillop said.

“As an industry, we should be proud of the progressive leadership that we collectively demonstrated more than half a decade ago to establish the framework.

“Australia’s beef industry supply chain set the agenda well before most other industries had even started to consider similar reporting frameworks.”

Key highlights from the 2021 Annual Update include:

  • The Australian beef industry remains free from all exotic diseases to ensure access to over 100 markets
  • Despite herd rebuild, in 2018 the Australian beef industry had a 51.46% reduction in the carbon footprint of the industry since the baseline year of 2005. The figure from last year’s report has also been restated from 56.7 to 53.9%. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources review and update activity data and the inventory methodology each year, and changes are applied retrospectively to past inventories
  • An estimated 30% of producers now use pain relief for routine, necessary husbandry practices. This is has increased from 21% last year
  • The processing sector reduced the amount of CO2E emitted per hot tonne standard carcass weight by 8.1% when processing beef, and further reduced water usage by 7.9%
  • Producers rated their global life satisfaction at 79.45 out of 100, indicating an increase of quality of life from previous years
  • Awareness of Animal Welfare Standards for Cattle has risen to 97.3% from 73%

For a full copy of the ABSF Annual Update, visit