— Finance

Woolworths’ part of $13m investment in FutureFeed low methane, seaweed fed beef

Supermarket giant Woolworths is part of a $13 million project that could fundamentally change a core grocery staple. But the key to the project’s success will be if shoppers don’t notice the change at all.

That grocery staple is beef – all kinds of beef, from steaks to mince. No, Woolies isn’t looking to replace beef with a fake meat alternative – although there are many non-meat burgers on the shelves these days.

The significant change that Woolworths is looking at is what the cattle eat on our dinner tables. In the future, beef cows will have a diet that partly consists of seaweed. It’s all about sustainability.

On Thursday evening, the first seaweed-fed steaks were served up by celebrity chef Matt Moran.

There’s nothing fishy about it, insisted Woolies, which has pumped $2.75 million into the FutureFeed initiative. A spokeswoman for Woolworths told news.com.au we wouldn’t be seeing seaweed-fed beef on shelves immediately, but they were excited about the program. “It’s early days for FutureFeed, but we’ll continue to watch its progress to understand the role it could play in our own supply chain,” she said.

Burping and farting cows is a big issue

The big problem when it comes to sustainability and cattle comes when they eat.

Most Australian cattle eat grass, and the grass is like baked beans for humans – as they digest the food, it makes them burp and fart. A lot. That burping and farting produce methane which is a greenhouse gas. About two-thirds of the emissions produced in the agricultural industry, and about 10 percent of Australia’s total emissions, are from methane caused by the gut and tummy rumblings of cattle.

The FutureFeed company, which was established by the CSIRO and now has investment and research backing from Meat and Livestock Australia, GrainCorp, and James Cook University, among others as well as Woolies, is looking at whether adding just 0.5 percent of processed seaweed to an animal’s diet can lead to them expelling fewer greenhouse gases out of various orifices.

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