Animal agriculture is unprepared for the transition to a more sustainable food system, according to a new report by collaborative investor network FAIRR.
The report shows that of the 60 publicly-listed animal protein companies assessed, only 18% track any of their methane emissions — and their figures are often only partial. Additionally, very few take responsibility for the deforestation caused by their activities, and even those with a zero-deforestation commitment often do not have full visibility of their third-party suppliers.
These findings are a blow for the recent commitments made at the COP26 summit to slash methane emissions and tackle deforestation. This has led the new report to conclude that animal agriculture is unprepared for the greener future most countries are attempting to move towards.
However, there are some signs of change. 28 out of the 60 companies in the Index — almost half — now have some form of involvement in alternative proteins, up from 15 in 2019. Of these, seven have investments in cultivated meat — for example, Thai Union has partnered with Aleph Farms and BlueNalu.
A FAIRR report published in October declared 2021 the “Year of Cultivated Meat”, after a record $506 million was invested in the sector. Another report by the network, analysing which companies have been most proactive in promoting plant-based changes, ranked Kerry — formerly best known as a dairy producer — high on the list.
“The post-COP26 era leaves large parts of the meat and dairy supply chain looking outdated and unattractive. Failures from methane to manure management underline the growing sense in the market that cows are the new coal,” said Jeremy Coller, Chair and Founder of FAIRR. “We are at an inflection point and if we are to avoid the meat and dairy sector becoming a stranded asset, we must harness the leadership emerging in parts of the industry and transform the way our food, particularly protein, is produced.”