Talk about climate change can make a person get dispirited quickly. Certainly, we all want to leave our children a world where resources are plentiful and all parts of it are livable. But what can one person do? If I recycle, bring my own bags to the grocery store and drive a hybrid vehicle, does any of it matter if the Amazon Rainforest is cleared out for cattle grazing or if coal production increases?
Maybe one citizen can’t do much, but a population can have meaningful effects. Not only can they make individual changes that add up over time, but they can encourage change with their votes and their wallets. One way they can do it is by supporting companies that are investing in sustainable initiatives. They can buy products with eco-friendly packaging or eco-friendly benefits, for example. In the meat industry, the grass-fed market continues to show strong growth, in part because it is perceived as more natural for the cattle and better for the environment. Consumers are supporting this niche, and if they continue to do so, it won’t be a niche for much longer.
Regenerative agriculture is another area that is gaining momentum. We have written about meat companies who are leaders in the movement with White Oak Pastures and Hickory Nut Gap Meats. Recently, Applegate Farms took regeneratively raised beef to a new level with the nationwide release of a line of Do Good Dog hot dogs, made from meat raised through regenerative agriculture. These companies, whether they are large or small, are putting their environmentally friendly practices front and center. The meat they produce is high-quality, but their goal is to give the consumers a delicious meal that also happens to come with sustainability gains, too.
Any processor can make sustainability a goal. It doesn’t require you to rework your entire supply chain, either. Think about ways you can eliminate waste from your operations. Think about how you can recycle paper or cardboard that you use. If you run a retail store, think about how you can make your packaging more recyclable. Or, offer a slight discount for shoppers who bring their own bags. Most importantly, tell your consumers what you are doing. Put it out there on your websites and social media posts. Put it on your labels if you have room. Let your consumers know that you’re working not only to be financially successful but socially responsible, too. As the growth in grass-fed beef has shown, consumers are willing to spend a little more to support food that has environmental benefits. People may like your meat products for their taste, but they could grow to love your company because of your sustainability.