Canadian Beef Sustainability Initiative is Thriving

Canadian Beef Sustainability Initiative is Thriving

Facing the Covid-19 pandemic, many Canadians have decided to join the trend toward increased sustainability – and some of them are promoting sustainable beef.
The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) is a group formed for the purpose of promoting sustainability | Learn more on Commonshare | in Canada’s beef industry, from pasture to plate. 
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The CRSB is Thriving 
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Already, CRSB is off to a good start. The volume of both members and observes in the CRSB has grown in recent months, notably with the approval of such new participants as Sysco Canada and Macgregors Meat and Seafood of Toronto.
As Andrea White, CRSB’s community engagement and marketing manager, explains, “We’re continually talking to new people interested in various aspects of the program.” 
At present, there are over 110 members in the CRSB. They cover beef production across the board, from numerous perspectives: academic institutions, producer associations, processors to retail and food service, NGOs in environmental and animal care, and food businesses that support both agriculture and the beef industry.
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Priorities of the Certification Process 
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CRSB’s certification process for beef is designed to prioritize the planet, people, animals, and progress, using a third-party verification process. 
CRSB believes the integrity of their process and their transparency merit consumer trust in their product as sustainable. It is also clear that Canadians are looking for this, even as they have been shopping for groceries online or doing take-out instead of going to restaurants. 
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Consumers are More Aware 
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As White explains, people are becoming “even more aware of where their food comes from, how it’s raised, and starting to make the connection between food and agriculture.”
Cargill, one of the founding partners of CRSB, is familiar with this dimension of consumer interest and inquiry. As Senior Sustainability Manager Gurneesh Bhandal explains, sustainability is a demand-driven priority.
“Our customers are asking us, ‘What can we say about the Canadian beef industry, about Canadian beef,’” as she explains. 
Specifically, Bhandal says that consumers want a story with their beef: where it comes from, how it was raised, etc. 
Getting information from producers to consumers 
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The obstacle in getting the story to the consumers is a question of bridging the gap between producers and processors, who are not consumer-facing, and retailers and foodservice partners, who are. 
She acknowledges the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened interest and expectations for the food supply chain. People want it to be safe, sustainable, and resilient | Learn more on Commonshare |.
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Cargill’s Commitment 
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For Cargill’s part, the company is committed to sustainability despite the challenges and disruptions of the pandemic. 
As Bhandal explains, the pandemic “has even enhanced the conversation for Cargill in that we are thinking about what resiliency and sustainability means for our facilities, supply chains and agricultural communities in new and different ways.”
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Prospects for the Future 
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So far, the CRSB is thriving, with 8.7 million pounds of certified beef sourced as of March 2020 since the start of the initiative. There has also been a 40% increase in producer certification in the last two years, and a 28% increase since last year.
To reach new levels of accomplishment, however, the CRSB program will need involvement from all parties. 
This is why cow-calf producers | Learn more on Commonshare | are being encouraged to consider their important role as the initial link in the sustainability chain. Cargill introduced an initiative back in 2018 to provide credits for any cattle that move through the system at certified stops all along the way.  

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