What is the Sustainable Meat Project?

Meat is a food of primary importance. It is however, for the last two decades, subjected to numerous attacks and criticisms. Among the main accusations are its environmental impact and the supposed health problems connected with it. The Sustainable Meat Project was born with the purpose to deepen and explain better to the public all these topics. So let’s see what it is about.

Various kinds of organisations and stakeholders participate to the debate on the production and consumption of meat, each characterised by different purposes: animal welfare organisations and/or environmental groups, research centres, media. In this context, the point of view of meat producers in Italy has never been inserted. For this reason they have felt the necessity to join in the debate by providing information, details and objective data useful to correct opinions which are sometimes prejudiced if not completely incorrect.

To achieve this scope, a group of operators in the livestock sector (companies and associations) was organised to support scientific studies that, in a logic of pre-competitive transparency, allowed to achieve the publication of a scientific study, “The sustainability of meat and cured meats in Italy”, as well as the launching of the Sustainable Meat Project and of the Web portals and

Born from the common purpose of the three main Italian meat industry associations, Assocarni, Assica and Unaitalia, the Sustainable Meat Project aims to cover all topics related to the world of meat: an unprecedented project in Italy, contributing with an instructing and informative approach to a balanced report on health, nutrition and sustainability.

The Sustainable Meat Project wants to identify the key issues, the state of knowledge and the latest trends in scientific and technical guidelines, showing that production and consumption of meat can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment. The aim is to represent a starting point for a constructive and transparent discussion, free from preconceptions and determined by the desire for scientific and objective analysis.

The main focus of “The sustainability of meat and cured meats in Italy” report is represented by the Environmental Hourglass, which graphically describes the environmental impact of food consumption per week. The study offers the opportunity of a wider reflection on the livestock production chain models in Italy, that generate a turnover of 30 billion Euro per year, compared with about 180 of the entire food sector and the 1,500 billion of Italian GDP.

The study analyses in depth the strengths and progress at the base of the Italian meat production model – beef, pork and poultry – increasingly oriented towards issues of sustainability – primarily nutritional and environmental – through the application of modern technologies throughout the supply chain and the increased sensitivity of the operators in meeting the requirements of a more demanding consumer.

Elaborated starting from the weekly consumption recommended by nutritional guidelines, multiplied by the average environmental impacts of the different food categories, the Environmental Hourglass is an expression of a broader approach to the vision of diet sustainability, which aims to assess the real environmental impact of the food that is consumed: if you follow proper dietary patterns, such as those typical of the Italian Mediterranean diet, the average weekly impact of meat is aligned with that of other foods, for which the unitary impacts are minor, but the quantities consumed significantly more.

The Environmental Hourglass method, which presents a reinterpretation of the food pyramid, surpasses the assessment of the environmental impact in absolute terms (CO2 emissions per kg of meat compared to a kg produced of other ingredients) and encourages a new approach that focuses the attention on recommended amounts being part of a proper and balanced diet.

In these first two years of operation, the Sustainable Meat Project has achieved excellent results in terms of visibility and communication, becoming a scientific reference point on issues related to the sustainability of meat production and consumption. In addition, the international academic community and the prestigious scientific environmental journal, the “Science of the Total Environment“, recognised the scientific validity of the Environmental Hourglass approach.

The Sustainable Meat Project

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.