July 28, 2020


Cargill's sustainable beef supply chain in Eastern Canada certified


Cargill could soon begin operations of a new beef supply chain in Eastern Canada after its Guelph processing plant was certified in line with sustainability standards determined by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

"It was end of February, end of March when that was finalised," said Emily Murray, Cargill's general manager of beef sales to McDonald's. "So it was truly just before the pandemic."

Previously, Cargill's only outlet for the certified value chain in Canada was its High River site in Alberta. The facility was forced to close recently due to COVID-19.

The shutdown, along with processing slowdowns or shutdowns at other Alberta beef plants, created a downslide in the general beef market, as animals backed up to the farm gate.

Processing in their sustainable value chain "flexed" with the industry in general at that time, Murray said.

The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association, one of the organisations supporting sustainable beef practices and regenerative agriculture, welcomed the news.

"I believe that Cargill being certified in Guelph is a good programme for the Verified Beef Production Plus," said chair Larry Wegner. "It will make it so that there is another option to get some returns back to the producers."

Murray said the company is "in conversations with our eastern supply chain now, coming into Guelph, to work with feedlots in that area, producers' organisations, VBP+ representation, to see how we can grow the supply chain in the east as well, and that also is going to flip the switch for several of our customers that are very eastern-focused on what they're able to do."

Last year, Cargill announced that it would be expanding its sustainable beef value chain pilot into a standing programme. The programme creates a segregated value chain for animals raised and processed according to CRSB standards. Farms, feedlots and processors must all pass an audit through either Verified Beef Production Plus or Where Food Comes From Inc. to be eligible for the programme. Beef is then earmarked for the programme's end-use partners, such as McDonalds and Harvey's.

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