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Australia’s chicken and egg industries aim for carbon neutral

Australia’s chicken meat and egg industries are investigating ways to get to carbon neutral as consumers aim to reduce their dietary carbon footprint.

Investments from both Australian Eggs and AgriFutures Australia demonstrate the chicken and egg industry’s desire to develop a plan toward neutrality, reports the country’s Farm Weekly. An almost $ 500,000 investment has been committed to developing one of the most comprehensive carbon footprint assessments ever conducted in Australia, says Australian Eggs MD, Rowan McMonnies, adding that a fast-growing population needs to be fed using fewer resources and emissions.

Australia’s chicken and egg industries are developing a plan toward carbon neutrality. Photo: William Moreland
Australia’s chicken and egg industries are developing a plan toward carbon neutrality. Photo: William Moreland

“Eggs and chicken are well positioned as they already have a relatively low carbon footprint but there is an opportunity to push ahead and be part of contributing to a lower carbon society,” said McMonnies, adding that research aims to determine the current energy usage of poultry products, creating new benchmarks and a framework to support farmers to lower their carbon footprint, ultimately allowing industry to pilot the system with farming businesses.

The first step before identifying pathways to carbon neutrality is to conduct a comprehensive carbon footprint of the entire supply chain...”

New research

The last carbon footprint assessment of Australia’s poultry industries was conducted over a decade ago, and Integrity Ag Services consultant Dr Stephen Wiedemann, who will conduct the new research, believes recent improvements could see carbon neutral chicken and eggs being produced at a modest cost in the near future. “The first step before identifying pathways to carbon neutrality is to conduct a comprehensive carbon footprint of the entire supply chain, from the planting of the grain that chickens eat to the packaging and transport of the final product,” he said. Thereafter the impact of steps individual farms are taking to lower their footprints are tested and ways to mitigate whatever emissions remain are identified.

3 carbon calculators for layers reviewed
Cutting carbon across the poultry sector is becoming increasingly important and there are now estimated to be 64 carbon calculators on the market.

Outputs from the project also include an assessment of the cost to establish carbon neutral or ‘low carbon’ eggs and chicken meat. “Chicken is the most consumed meat in Australia by some margin and per capita consumption has increased 10-fold over the past 50 years,” said AgriFutures Australia MD John Harvey.