April 24, 2019

Consumers see protein as part of sustainable diet, according to Cargill survey



Meat, fish and eggs can be an important part of a healthy and environmentally responsible diet, said consumers in new global research by Cargill.

And they planned to keep eating them too-along with plant-based dietary protein. More than two-thirds of respondents said they intended to maintain or increase their consumption of animal protein in the next year. Four-fifths of participants expressed interest in plant-based or alternative sources of protein.

"We're pleased consumers see animal protein as an important part of a healthy diet," said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill's premix and nutrition business. "Dietary guidance consistently emphasises the benefits of adequate protein intake from a variety of sources. Our aim is to help our livestock, poultry and aquaculture customers meet the growing global demand for protein in the most healthy, productive and sustainable way possible."

In its latest Feed4Thought survey, Cargill found 93% of respondents across the US, Brazil, the Netherlands and Vietnam said they care about the ability to feed the world sustainably, with 84% saying that it impacts what they buy. Animal protein makes the cut, according to most consumers, with 80% of survey participants saying it can be part of an environmentally responsible regimen and 93% saying it can play an important role in a healthy diet.

Access to poultry meat and eggs can rapidly improve people's diets and have a major impact on their lives," said Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer International.

Cargill recently partnered with Heifer to launch Hatching Hope, an initiative aimed at improving the nutrition and livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030, by training and opening markets for subsistence poultry farmers and providing nutrition education for their communities.

"We're investing in smart, resourceful women farmers, working with them to improve their products, access new markets and build sustainable businesses that generate living incomes," said Ferrari.

Consumers expect companies like Cargill to step up. When asked who bears most responsibility for ensuring food production is sustainable, almost a third of participants selected food and feed manufacturers as their top choice. Governments came in second (25%) and then consumers via the foods they eat (20%). 

Cargill takes this responsibility seriously, with new policies on South American sustainable soy, human rights and deforestation, and partnerships, like The Nature Conservancy-Nestle Purina-Cargill initiative to help US farmers conserve irrigation water, the company said.

Cargill Animal Nutrition prioritises delivering sustainability to customers and consumers, along with well-being and performance, as the outcomes of its new five-year strategy. This shows up in collaborations like the ship-sharing partnership with Skretting, which aims to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than one-fifth per transported tonne of salmon feed by reducing unused capacity in Norway. It's evident in R&D and sourcing, where Cargill is exploring novel ingredients to solve specific challenges, such as insect meal, algae and Calysta's FeedKind® protein as more sustainable alternatives to fish meal and fish oil in aqua feed. And it guides the development of products, like Cargill's NUGENA™ line, which can reduce heat stress and feather-pecking in cage-free chickens; and Cargill's use of Delacon's phytogenic additives, which can lower methane from cows by up to 10%.

"Cargill's research and innovation around feed additives play an important role for us in terms of ways we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, as well as ways we can reduce antibiotic use," said Townsend Bailey, director of US Supply Chain Sustainability at McDonalds.

"Focusing on a broad set of sustainability challenges, from GHGs to well-being, reflects consumers' diverse views on the issues that matter most. Respondents globally were fairly evenly split between wanting livestock, poultry and fish farmers to focus on reducing antibiotics, using feed with sustainable ingredients, reducing pollutants and "doing more with less" (e.g. improving feed efficiency)-a long-standing sustainability driver for Cargill."

"One of the least told but most significant stories in agriculture today is the incredible progress we are making in helping farmers do more with less," said Warta. "All of us in agriculture want to raise our productivity and efficiency-not just so we can operate our businesses more profitably, but so we can steward resources for the next generation who will take over someday."

- Cargill