Morrisons teams up with Sea Forest to fast-track lower methane beef

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Morrisons: 'As British farming's biggest direct customer, we are well placed to support the farmers we work with and help them farm more sustainably. This partnership supports our ambition to have net zero agriculture emissions by 2030.' © GettyImages/coldsnowstorm
Morrisons: 'As British farming's biggest direct customer, we are well placed to support the farmers we work with and help them farm more sustainably. This partnership supports our ambition to have net zero agriculture emissions by 2030.' © GettyImages/coldsnowstorm
Australia’s Sea Forest is working with Myton Food Group, the manufacturing arm of UK retailer, Morrisons, to get its seaweed derived methane abating livestock feed ingredient supplied to beef cows.

Sam Elsom, CEO of that startup, says this new alliance is a significant milestone for the company.

“Our trials with beef, dairy and wool producers across Australia and New Zealand have demonstrated excellent results and we are delighted to partner with Morrisons to make a meaningful impact on climate change at an international scale.”

Sea Forest’s Asparagopsis based methane targeting product, SeaFeed, is included as a small fraction of the animals’ diet, at around a 0.5% inclusion level.

A finalist in The Earthshot Prize, Sea Forest has already collaborated with Australian burger chain Grill’d to introduce a beef burger made from grass-fed black Angus cattle that produces 67% less methane emissions, according to a release from Morrisons.

Sustainability goals 

The move supports Morrisons ambition to achieve net zero agriculture emissions from its directly supplied farms by 2030.

"The partnership will help to fast track the introduction of lower carbon beef products such as mince, burgers, steaks, and joints in Morrisons. The SeaFeed product is proven in global, peer reviewed studies to have a significant impact on methane production,” Sophie Throup, technical and sustainability director at Myton Food Group for Morrisons, tells FeedNavigator.

Sea Forest was identified as a potential partner for Morrisons through the retailer’s collaborative seaweed project with Queens University Belfast, she explains.

The supermarket chain has been funding a three-year long trial ​led by researchers at that institution looking at the use of seaweed from the UK and Irish coastlines in helping to reduce methane production in cattle. 

“The collaboration with Sea Forest forms part of a holistic strategy at Morrisons to support farmers, which [along with the research work at Queen's University testing indigenous seaweed], has included mapping and measuring carbon baselines for emissions and sequestration, alongside developing action plans, research projects and learning support to help get efficiency and best practice embedded on supplying farms through the School of Sustainable Food and Farming set up at Harper Adams University.

“We have also looked at soy reduced diets and the role of alternative feeds, including insect ​provision,” continues Throup.

She maintains that the retailing group, by employing its own livestock experts who have direct relationships with farmers, can make changes quickly, meaning that once a trial is complete and there are approvals in place, it can develop lower carbon beef products and help support the drive to lower emissions from cattle.

As regards the expected timeline for the introduction of the sustainable beef products resulting from this tie-up, the Morrisons representative says the approval for the process is being worked through, but, if successful, its customers should see products on the shelf by 2026.

Industry context

In April, we heard about similar work ​being undertaken at another UK supermarket group, M&S. That retailer announced a £1 million (US$1.3m) fund to change the diet of cows within its milk pool to mitigate methane emissions.

Dennis Rijnders, regional commercial director, Bovaer, at dsm-firmenich, told us then that the company was working with M&S in that collective effort to combat climate change.

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