A methane reduction of up to 40% is achievable for Irish beef production – which would have “significant positive benefits”, according to a multi-year study being conducted by ABP in association with Teagasc and the ICBF.

ABP revealed this as part of an announcement that it has signed up to the Business In the Community Ireland (BITCI) Low Carbon Pledge.

This is the first dedicated pledge generated by Irish businesses to set industry standards on sustainability and reduce carbon emissions, the meat processor claims.

As part of its commitment to reduce its carbon emissions, ABP has been conducting a multi-year study with Teagasc and the ICBF at its demonstration farm in Carlow.

The research has focused on using a data-driven approach to improving the genetics available to the dairy beef herd, so that beef animals optimise their feed conversion ratio, grow faster and are ready for slaughter at a younger age, thereby significantly reducing their emissions footprint.

The study has demonstrated that a methane emission reduction of up to 40% is achievable and this could have significant positive benefits across Irish beef production, the meat processing firm says.

The results also highlight the potential for improved yields of up to €200 on animal carcass values for beef farmers, it was added.

Over 4,000 animals have been involved in the study to date with results fed into the ICBF data base.

Dean Holroyd, technical and sustainability director at ABP Food Group, said:

For over six years we have been working with Teagasc and the ICBF to make beef productions more sustainable and the results to date demonstrate what can be achieved on a typical farm as well as highlighting the possibilities for the beef production sector.

ABP’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

The targets address GHG emissions across ABP’s business (scope 1 and 2 emissions) and its supply chain (scope 3 emissions).

L-R: Padraig French, head of dairy research at Teagasc; Andrew Cromie, ICBF technical director; and Dean Holroyd, group technical and sustainability director, ABP. Image source: Colm Mahady, Fennell Photography

ABP says it has been committed to the Science Based Targets initiative since 2019, which are consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The company is also a nominated sector leader of a similar carbon reduction scheme with Business in the Community in Northern Ireland.

Originally launched in 2018, the Low Carbon Pledge has now evolved and calls on all Irish businesses to work towards setting science-based emission reduction targets by 2024.

The pledge demonstrates meaningful business commitment to reducing carbon emissions and acts as a catalyst for wider initiatives and actions. The pledge is led by the Low Carbon Sub-group of the BITCI Leaders’ Group on Sustainability, and endorsed by the Irish government.