The business is exhibiting at the IFFA trade show next month (4-9 May) and part of its programme for the event is the unveiling of its The Future of Meat is Green programme, which aims to help tackle some key sustainability issues surrounding the meat industry.
Commercial director Coen van Oorschot explained the initiative and how it was time to be more positive when it came to meat production.
“[With our initiative] we want to show the meat industry that ‘Green’ is an opportunity, not a threat. In the last months, especially, meat consumption has been linked negatively around the subject of sustainability. Not wanting to debate that, neither positively nor negatively, we want to recognise that there are also plenty of opportunities for the meat industry.”
He said this thinking should be part of the natural evolution of the meat industry. “Look, the meat industry over the past hundreds of years, has evolved to a highly efficient industry, which can bring large volumes of nutritious and delicious products to consumers. Let’s use that strength and power to move along the Green transition.
“What we currently see happening is that the industry comes with several initiatives, but that those initiatives are scattered. We want to show that Green can mean a lot, from more efficient production, such as a reduction in cooking time, to using less meat, to making that lower amount of meat more delicious with fewer components that are not good for you, such as salt.”
It’s difficult to have a debate about the future of meat without discussing the rise in flexitarianism.
“But, last but not least – why wouldn’t we use the current apparatus to bring, for instance, vegetable-based products to the consumer; not a as just ‘nice to have’, but mainstream? We want to be with the meat industry as a partner in this transition, which can help this industry to be leading, not just following.”
According to Van Oorschot, thinking about how meat is produced properly was key to successful sustainability. “We like the adage: ‘less is more’,” he said. “It means that if we are producing meat, we should do it in such a way that we use our resources smartly and, most of all, that the product is delicious – and affordable for the quantity you will eat. That means we work on yield, we work on better taste, we work on total concepts of new or better food products that are smarter from all possible angles. Besides that, this also gives the meat industry the opportunity to offer more than just meat. I think this is also crucial for the future of meat producers. Standard meat products are being commoditised. Creating value for all the companies’ stakeholders have to come from developing new concepts using the existing infrastructure.”
He explained what he hoped Vaessen-Schoemaker would achieve with this initiative.
“We want to change the negative discussion into a positive one: What can WE as meat industry do together? We, as a meat industry, have a role and an opportunity. There is lots to do, from product innovation, cooking yields, smarter processing to creative product development. The whole industry is covered with beautiful machinery, being it forming lines to co-extrusion lines for alginate-cased sausages; we can use that apparatus to produce alternative products. And if we make meat, let’s make it efficient and delicious.”