You would expect seaweed and a large remote cattle station would have little in common but it appears this combination will lead our next beef steak revolution
Agriculture has made huge strides over the last decade for something we are usually not recognised for, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 56.7% since 2005.
But now we are down to the hard part, and that is how to reduce live gas emissions from livestock.
Up until now we have avoided substantially decreasing herds to achieve reductions as this would decimate the livelihoods of many employed by the red meat industry.
And, apparently there will be no need for herd reduction according to FutureFeed.
FutureFeed says it holds the clue for the industry to become carbon neutral without losing employment opportunities as it nurtures an emerging industry of Asparagopsis seaweed producers.
The prove its point, FutureFeed has just served up a world’s first during National Science Week, dishing up sustainable seaweed-fed steak with celebrity chef Matt Moran.
The powerhouse seaweed behind the lower emission beef is Asparagopsis, a red seaweed that naturally prevents the formation of methane by inhibiting a specific enzyme in the gut of livestock during digestion and has been proven to lower methane emissions by over 80%.
FutureFeed CEO Dr Regan Crooks said these steaks mark a significant moment in the quest to lower-methane meat with the solution ready for the beef feedlot market.
“It’s incredible to see the transition of a solution from science to a commercial reality and I think that’s something worth celebrating. These steaks represent the launch of the technology for the feedlot market and we are anticipating many more steaks on plates here and around the world that are certified by FutureFeed,” Dr Crooks said.
“The science proves the safety and efficacy, and we now look to the seaweed growers making incredible progress locally and globally for what we anticipate being rapidly increasing supply.”
“Climate change is happening now, and the IPCC reported last recently that methane emissions in the atmosphere are at their highest levels in hundreds of thousands of years.
“We expect this will lead to increasing pressure on our sector and it is timely that we are able to provide a solution that has now been proven, in a commercial setting, to significantly reduce methane.”
The IP was developed in collaboration with CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia Limited and James Cook University and FutureFeed licenses seaweed farmers in Australia and around the world to grow and sell the seaweed.
“Our licensees are taking this technology to the world and we’re proud of the strong and dedicated network working together to bring this technology to market.” Dr Crooks added.
To show how the Asparagopsis-fed meat handles the heat, chef and fourth generation farmer Matt Moran gave a small group of at-home chefs the rare opportunity to join him for a virtual cooking class.
“It is so important that people not only understand the origins of the food on their plates but the impact cultivating that food has on our planet,” Matt Moran said.
“As a farmer, I understand the incredible advances the agricultural industry has made to become more sustainable and Asparagopsis is a natural solution to the methane emissions from cattle without losing the nourishment and employment opportunities the red meat industry provides.”
“I cooked up a beautiful piece of sirloin last week over charcoal at home ahead of the cooking class and it was great to have the same great taste with the knowledge of lower methane emissions.”
Woolworths Group is an investor in FutureFeed and collaborated on the commercial trial.
Anna Speer, Managing Director of Woolworths Group’s red meat business Greenstock, said customers are increasingly looking to supermarkets and industry to help them live and shop more sustainably.
“We’re backing FutureFeed to help Australia’s cattle farmers continue to produce some of the world’s best beef with a lower emissions profile,” Ms Speer said.
“We want to play our part in helping agriculture harness innovation for a low carbon future and we’re hopeful this trial marks an important step in the future of beef production.”
Dr Crooks said that not only is Asparagopsis a natural climate solution, but it leaves zero traces in meat.
“Our guests will be able to vouch that the steaks don’t have a Surf ‘n’ Turf flavour, just the taste of the high-quality beef that Australia is known for around the world,” she said.
“As part of this trial, we reaffirmed what we have seen to date and that’s that there are no traces of the seaweed in the meat or edible offal from cattle that have been fed Asparagopsis.”
FutureFeed Chair Duncan Ferguson said the event was the first step to showcasing how Asparagopsis-fed steak can change the mainstream meat market.
“Commercialising and scaling Asparagopsis production will not only create opportunities for cattle farmers, but it will enable an ecosystem of success amongst Aquafarmers, livestock producers, lotfeeders, transporters, processors, and exporters,” Mr Ferguson said.
“This isn’t about just making a feed ingredient, it’s developing a whole new industry for Australia and communities all around the world and it’s unique in that it addresses a market need so there is already significant demand for the technology.
“As the patent holder for Asparagopsis, FutureFeed’s role is to support growth across the entire industry by demonstrating the benefits of this amazing natural solution to the climate crisis and supporting our licensees to deliver it to the market.”
See more about FutureFeed here.