13th October 2023

Plenty of food for thought in Maastricht

Not only is Maastricht one of the most picturesque cities in Europe, it’s also the scene of great political significance – most notably the founding 1992 EU treaty which bears its name.

As we are all well aware, a lot has happened in the last three years, let alone the last three decades, with Covid being replaced in the headlines by war in Ukraine and, only this week, war in the Middle East.

The world is also facing the challenges of climate change and food security, and Maastricht was a fitting host for the first World Meat Congress since 2018.

Hosted by COV, the Dutch Meat Producers Association, in co-operation with the International Meat Secretariat, the congress was a great opportunity to learn how other countries and organisations are tackling these challenges, as well as gain valuable insights into global trade flows and forecasts for the coming period.

Listening to speakers including the Secretary General of the Chinese Meat Association, Uruguay’s Minister of Livestock, and the WWF Vice President, it became clear that the additional volatility in global trade patterns being driven by climate change is only set to increase.

This is set against a backdrop of ever-increasing demand for protein, particularly for beef.

Every country in the world is grappling with how to tackle climate change with different emission baselines, targets and goals, ultimately all looking to do the same thing and produce protein with as few emissions as possible.

This, of course, is a key pillar of our strategy, as we strive to be at the global forefront of sustainable red meat production.

I also had the pleasure at World Meat Congress to chair a session on the use of data in animal stewardship, which featured fascinating presentations from IQinabox and Deloitte, which are working on automating data collection to benefit animal welfare and producer decision making.

If we can integrate data systems into our processes and use it to underpin objective decision making, then we can evidence our credentials as a high welfare producer much more effectively.

Networking and spending time with counterparts such as Beef + Lamb New Zealand also served as a reminder just how well respected Scotland is on the global stage when it comes to red meat production.

The most valuable aspect of World Meat Congress, however, was the opportunity to share our challenges and to identify solutions that have worked elsewhere.

Wherever the delegates came from, everyone came away from Maastricht with plenty of food for thought.

Sarah Millar, Chief Executive

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