Brazil’s multibillion dollar opportunity to improve efficiency in the beef supply chain

Overcoming inefficiencies in Brazil’s beef supply chain could save hundreds of billions in energy costs and avoid billions of tonnes in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Boas praticas na cadeia da carne brasileira

12 April 2016

Overcoming inefficiencies in Brazil’s beef supply chain could save hundreds of billions in energy costs and avoid billions of tonnes in GHG emissions. A new report launched today outlines how a programme to implement best practice across a sample of the beef supply chain, from ranching to retail, could save US$ 880 million in energy costs and reduce carbon emissions by at least 12 million tonnes.

The programme was designed by international sustainability experts the Carbon Trust following a two-year project, with funding from the British Embassy in Brasilia. This process has been informed by extensive engagement with the Brazilian government, and local industry stakeholders, local implementation experts, academia and NGOs, including significant input from the Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA), Ministry of Environment (MMA), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Today Brazil produces more than 10 million tonnes of beef a year, generating over BRL 50 billion (US$13 billion) in revenue, but this comes at an expense. Brazil’s beef production is directly responsible for 17 percent of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions and indirectly responsible for a large share of ongoing deforestation and land degradation that accounts for a further 24 percent of the country’s impact on climate change. The beef supply chain is therefore responsible for approximately 42 percent of Brazil's total impact on climate change.

Moving forward, the Brazilian government has the challenge to develop this industry sustainably. On the one hand, the official governmental plan is to increase the beef output by 30% between 2013 and 2023. On the other hand, Brazil’s international commitments to tackle climate change and deforestation will require major cuts in this sector’s emissions. The good news is that there is huge untapped potential to achieve this in a way that enhances this supply chain’s efficiency, productivity and profitability, helping Brazilian businesses to become more competitive and more sustainable.

The programme designed by the Carbon Trust gathered insights from local experts and identified major opportunities in all 5 subsectors of the supply chain: cattle ranching; the transport of live animals; meat processing facilities; refrigerated transportation; and food retail. The Carbon Trust is now trying to secure US$137 million to implement the programme which will raise awareness of the practical solutions to improve resource efficiency and the business benefits they can bring; provide low cost technical assistance and on-site audits to companies to help them identify and implement solutions; and provide US$100 million in finance to unlock investments in implementing best practice and new equipment.

João Lampreia, Manager of the Carbon Trust in Brazil, said: 

"The beef supply chain plays an important role in Brazil, both culturally and economically. But it is also the single greatest contributor to our country’s overall impact on climate change. Fortunately lots of little changes that improve resource efficiency and benefit businesses can add up to a giant reduction in carbon emissions and deforestation. There is a huge win-win opportunity to realize the Brazilian government’s NDC targets, achieve major socio-environmental, and at the same time benefit businesses across the supply chain."

"A lot can be achieved through simple changes in behaviour and through implementing existing technology. For example, businesses can introduce more fuel efficient trucks or energy efficient refrigerators, where the return on investment from lower energy costs can be very attractive. Similarly, ranchers can sustainably intensify their production with best practice techniques of pasture recovery and maintenance, doubling their productivity to make more money and still freeing-up land for other uses or reforestation."

 

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