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Maple Leaf Foods introduces 'Sustainable Meat Principles'

With global meat consumption growing at an ‘unsustainable’ rate, company pushes for more plant-based proteins

Maple Leaf Foods is advocating for moderating meat consumption and is working to develop more plant-based proteins as part of its ongoing sustainability initiatives. The company said the current rate of North American meat consumption – which is four times greater than that of non-industrial nations – is “unsustainable.”

The food giant also unveiled its Sustainable Meat Principles as part of an overall objective to become “the most sustainable protein company on Earth.” The principles state:

  1. Sustainable meat is nutritious, healthy and safe;

  2. Sustainable meat is accessible, affordable and eaten in moderation;

  3. Sustainable meat is produced adhering to environmental standards that measurably reduce impacts across the lifecycle;

  4. Sustainable meat comes from animals that are raised with care, with minimal use of antibiotics and to standards that respect the Five Freedoms of animal welfare;

  5. Sustainable meat is produced through a resilient, fair and efficient food system that makes optimal use of land and natural resources;

  6. Sustainable meat is produced by a company that is responsive to the needs of society

In order to bring the principles to life, Maple Leaf is expanding its efforts in plant-based proteins and better quality meat, while also working towards reducing its environmental footprint by 50% by 2025.

The meat principles are the latest update to the sustainability initiatives first introduced by Maple Leaf in 2012. “This is true to who we are, reflects our strengths and builds on the material progress we have made over the past several years,” said president and CEO Michael McCain in a release.

McCain said the current food system had “drifted from its roots” – to nourish wellbeing, farm sustainably and to view food as a universal good for all – and Maple Leaf could be a leader in advancing more sustainable forms of protein.

In an accompanying video, Maple Leaf said humans consume an estimated 308 million tonnes of meat each year, with global meat consumption forecast to increase 80% by 2050.

Livestock production is a leading contributor to global CO2 emissions – exceeding all of the world’s transportation combined – while also using 30% of its fresh water and 80% of its agricultural land.

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