JBS inks feed additive deal to cut cow methane emissions globally

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/Abstract Aerial Art
Image: Getty/Abstract Aerial Art

Related tags JBS Methane

JBS, the world's second-largest food company and the largest meatpacking company, has signed a deal with Royal DSM with the goal of reducing enteric methane emissions from cattle on a global scale.

The partnership was announced at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, where EU and US leaders announced plans to lower emissions of methane greenhouse gases. Methane, produced by cows and other ruminants during digestion and released into the atmosphere through burping and breathing​, is one of the most potent GHGs, with a more significant short-term impact on global heading than carbon dioxide.

JBS will use a feed additive called Bovaer, developed over 10 years by Dutch company DSM. Bovaer is added to animal feed, and can reduce up to 90% of methane emissions, according to a recent Australian study. This found that a quarter of a teaspoon of the additive a day, per animal, inhibits the enzyme that activates the production of methane gas in the stomach of the ruminant. The effect is immediate and, if use is interrupted, the emission of gases is fully summarized.

JBS’s plan to reduce methane emissions on its supply chains come as part of a broader initiative, announced in March this year, to be carbon neutral by 2040. The target will involve reducing its own and indirect emissions, then offsetting any that remain.

 JBS said it would give the additive to confined cattle in its home Brazil market. In six months, it plans to test it in a second market, either in Australia or the US.

“Sustainability is at the core of our business strategy. We are developing a major action plan to reduce the Company's entire carbon footprint, and this partnership with DSM will contribute not only to our plans but for the whole sector in this complex issue of methane emissions”​, said JBS Global CEO Gilberto Tomazoni.

Tomazoni recently outlined the steps JBS will take to achieve Net Zero at FoodNavigator’s recent Climate Smart Food​​.

Among the actions to achieve Net Zero, JBS will invest US$1 billion by 2030 to decarbonize all direct and indirect operations and another US$100 million in research to develop solutions that make agriculture increasingly sustainable. The Company will also link executive bonuses to climate goals, he explained.

“We firmly believe that agriculture can and must be part of the climate solution. We must help farmers produce more without sacrificing forest or expanding their livestock footprint,”​ he told the event, adding the company believes animal feed and regenerative agriculture are most important strategies to reduce emissions.

JBS has pledged to eliminate illegal deforestation from its supply chain – including the suppliers of its suppliers – by 2025, as is committed to zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035.

 In 2009, JBS pledged to deliver zero deforestation across its entire Amazon supply base by 2011, a target that was not met. Tomazoni said improving technology, such as geomonitoring and blockchain, mean it expects to reach its latest commitments.

“We can use the same land to produce more food. At the same time we can face the challenge of climate change because we can reduce the emission of carbon. We need to find ways to escalate these types of initiatives.”

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