Solutions for sustainable beef

WWF envisions a global marketplace in which beef is sustainably produced. Stakeholders across the beef industry—such as retailers, restaurants, traders, processors, ranchers, farmers, scientists, government officials, investors and NGOs—all play a critical role in making this happen.


WWF is working with a diverse group of stakeholders across the beef supply chain to ensure that beef is produced and processed in a way that is socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sustainable—preserving and restoring critical habitats, helping to protect watersheds, and improving soil health and water quality.

The aim of WWF is to increase sustainability of beef production by:
  • Reducing habitat conversion (converting land both for grazing and to produce feed for livestock);
  • Minimising the impacts of overgrazing such as decreased plant biodiversity, low residual plant cover and soil erosion;
  • Reducing green house gas emission: livestock activities emit considerable amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide;
  • Reducing impacts on water (use of water for crops and animal consumption as well as pollution from livestock and feed grain production);
  • Addressing social issues including maintaining the livelihoods of indigenous people dependent on livestock production.
The first initiative related to this work was the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, during which some 300 stakeholders from across the beef system met to address the environmental, economic and social impacts of beef production.

The goal of this forum was to develop and promote greater adoption of sustainable beef practices that lead to science-based, measurable outcomes through a global multi-stakeholder initiative—the Global Sustainable Beef Roundtable.

By working with producers as well as companies and their supply chains to improve the sustainability of beef production, WWF is working to help ensure that consumers have  a more sustainable choice to foster a safe, affordable and wholesome diet.
 / ©: GRSB
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

CASE STUDY: Dealing with the effects of overgrazing

 / ©: WWF
WWF - Better Production for a Living Planet (2012)
In Brazil, raising cattle is the single biggest threat to the Amazon rainforest.

Supported by WWF-Brazil and Embrapa Beef Cattle (part of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture), rancher Thimoteo Lobreiro is tackling soil erosion and make his business more sustainable. 

At his farm in the Cerrado, Thimoteo grows microorganisms which, when sprayed on to fields, restore soil fertility. He also gives his grass a break and the chance to regenerate by regularly rotating cattle.

As a result, Thimoteo doesn’t have to spend so much on chemical fertilizer, weed killer, expensive seeds and cattle feed. So, while his productivity is higher, his costs are around 40% lower than on conventional ranches. His meat also tastes better.

And healthier soil means insects and birds are flourishing too.


Be part of the solution

► Companies, financial sector leaders, policy makers and NGOs are already working with WWF to become part of the solution to making beef sustainable. Join them in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and do your part

► Eat smart – if you buy beef, buy sustainably-produced beef and let your retailer know that you prefer sustainably-produced beef. This will help catalyse action, inform the process and contribute to the development and uptake of standards and certification.

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