Flinders + Co Taking the carbon neutral leap
The foodservice meat wholesaler believes it’s the first meat company in the world to fully offset all carbon emissions, not only from its own business, but from every kilogram of meat it sells.
Chief Executive Officer James Madden said the decision to pursue carbon neutrality had dual drivers. The company’s decision to become 100% carbon neutral was driven by both ethical ideals and commercial reality.
“Last year we changed our name from Flinders Island Meat to Flinders + Co, to reflect the fact our portfolio of products had grown beyond Flinders Island,” James said. “As part of that rebranding, we also spent time redefining our company vision and purpose. We came up with a company purpose to ‘cultivate a better food world’”.
He added: “One reason for aiming to ‘cultivate better’ is that we wanted to have a reason for our business to exist beyond just money – we wanted to work on something that makes a positive difference every day. The other reason was strategic. We looked at consumer trends and consumer purchasing drivers and could see that millennials, in particular, are prepared to pay a premium for produce that’s sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly.”
In 2017, James took part in the Young Food Innovators program of MLA Donor Company (MDC), an experience he credits with driving his company’s change in direction. The Young Food Innovators program was a 12‑month intensive, accelerated development program for young people working in the red meat, horticulture, seafood and dairy primary producer sectors.
The business engaged the Carbon Reduction Institute to calculate its carbon footprint. “The consultants analysed our wholesaling business in Melbourne, as well as each supplier’s carbon footprint on a per‑kilogram‑of‑meat basis,” James said.
In terms of their own business, the Maddens were able to identify both short‑term and long‑term methods of reducing emissions. “Straightaway, we switched to renewable energy for our electricity,” James said. “We also identified that we could use more efficient refrigerants and delivery vehicles, which we’re in the process of switching over to now.”
In the long‑term, Flinders + Co aims to encourage their suppliers to reduce emissions by sending price signals ‘back down the supply chain’. “We can’t solve the carbon puzzle on‑farm, but we can try to provide an incentive for producers to do it,” James said. For now, Flinders + Co is investing in carbon offset projects to offset their suppliers’ emissions, including purchasing offsets from one of their suppliers, Greenham Tasmania.
James’ advice for producers is to be open to the idea of becoming carbon neutral and to do plenty of research.