We've worked with a few companies wanting to tackle their red meat sustainability and we've learned a few things along the way. If you're looking to initiate a sustainable beef strategy, here's what you should consider.
1. Know where you're trying to get to.
In other words, start with the end in mind. Making a change is hard work, expensive and often disruptive. You've got to know it's worth it, so know where you're trying to get to and that it's worth it.
2. Know why you're changing.
Normally it's one of three reasons. (a) You're trying to do good; to have a genuine measurable impact on beef farming methods. (b) You're trying to build the brand and invest in margin, using sustainable sourcing as a point of difference. (c) You're trying to manage and report on Scope 3 emissions. When the pressure comes, be crystal clear on the why.
3. Align all necessary internal stakeholders.
Make sure everyone from sustainability, finance, marketing, procurement and production is involved early. Make sure they understand why the project exists and what the ultimate destination is.
4. Nail the logistics.
Once you've done steps one-to-three, you're in a strong position to assess how you're going to deliver the strategy. You may find the best model is not the one you first had in mind.
5. Understand and be comfortable with the long-term economics.
This is going to become part of how you do business. It's not a one-off investment but an ongoing cost - claiming responsibility for previously unaccounted costs. You're going to talk about your new sustainability impact and back-tracking is difficult and damaging. It's important the board is comfortable with this sitting on the P&L long-term.
It's tempting to default to what we know; starting trials, changing suppliers, planning comms and hoping it all works out. But putting in the work up-front to get the foundations right saves cost, complexity and course-correcting later.