It’s already in use by McDonald’s Canadian division, but now other sellers of Canadian beef can use the official sustainable beef logo if they source that type of meat.
Having an official logo is a significant milestone in the lengthy journey to make Canada a world leader in the certified sustainable beef movement. Over the past four-plus years, a host of players in the beef sector and beyond have first developed the sustainability standards for cattle producers, feedlots, and processors; and then proven that beef produced under those protocols can be traced from the ranch to the grocery store or restaurant selling it.
The various versions of the logo (known as ‘marks’) now gives retailers the chance to trumpet that accomplishment.
“Our research indicates that consumers want more information about how their beef is produced,” said Calgary-area rancher Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which developed the standards and the logo.
“The goal of the CRSB marks is to provide retail and food-service companies with a credible and transparent assurance tool to communicate with consumers about their commitment to sustainable sourcing, and a purchasing choice for consumers seeking assurances of responsible practices.”
McDonald’s Canada, which started the certified sustainable beef initiative in the spring of 2014 with a pilot program, has already been using the logo. The Canadian arm of the fast-food giant has also been involved in a second pilot, which began a year ago, that demonstrated beef produced under the protocols could be kept separate during the production process.
McDonald’s is using a version of the logo with the words “mass balance” near the bottom of the image, which indicates that at least 30 per cent of the beef is from certified operations.
Cargill is the only beef processor which has received CRSB’s check of approval so far, due to its work with the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot. The pilot pays a per-head amount for cattle in its sustainable supply chain and is a separate CRSB project, although based on the same sustainability standards.
“I think that there are some who are going to go that route where they use a certification model that has a mass balance portion of it,” Cargill sustainability manager Gurneesh Bhandal said. “Those will be customers who are planning to use the CRSB’s framework as a sourcing tool, so they actually want to identify how much of their beef is being sourced from certified operations and they want to make an on-product claim. There will be some customers who want to go a different route and talk about their overall support for the framework or their membership in the CRSB.”
There is little visual difference between the different certification marks, although Bhandal argues that similarity will not impact consumer transparency.
“I think the underlying objective of the use of these logos is to communicate more broadly about the sustainability efforts in the beef industry and build consumer trust, which I think these logos will help do,” she said. “The differences that you do see in the logos are more to signify sort of the technical differences in how companies are involved, whether they’re using it as a sourcing tool or whether it’s framework support.”