Meat is a source of many nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron and protein, but is also the food type that affects the environment the most. According to the latest adult dietary survey, we each eat approximately 50-55 kg of meat (including poultry) in Sweden every year.1 The total consumption—that is, the amount of meat in carcass weight that is required to satisfy consumption—amounts to 85 kg per person per year, but that also includes bones and wastage that occurs along the food chain.2
Reducing meat consumption in the western world is an important contribution to achieving global climate objectives, and many plant-based alternatives are available on the market today. However, when meat is to be consumed, there is great potential for selecting products according to sustainability aspects and thereby contributing to positive effects on biological diversity and open landscapes etc. The production of meat and other foodstuffs of animal origin varies greatly in, for example, the type of animal, the production systems and animal husbandry. The environmental and climate impact from different meat products therefore also varies greatly. Contracting authorities that take sustainability aspects into account when procuring various meat products can therefore contribute to making a difference with regards to impact on the climate, the emission of substances damaging to the environment or the health, biological diversity, animal health and animal welfare.
Livestock production accounts for about 15 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.3 Large areas of land are used globally for the production of animal feed and grazing. The consumption of meat is therefore associated with a considerable impact on the climate, regardless of where and how it is produced.4 Due to the animals' digestion systems, the production of beef and lamb gives rise to the emission of methane, which is a more powerful greenhouse gas compared with carbon dioxide, but it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter length of time.5 The production of pork generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but does not have the same positive effects on preserving biological diversity and a varied agricultural landscape as do grazing animals.
As with all kinds of farming, animal production leads to the emission of nutrients and chemicals into surrounding ecosystems, such as results when using fertilisers and plant protection products. Organic production also causes emissions, but does not involve the use of synthetically produced chemical plant protection products, so that the emission of unnatural substances into the environment is reduced.6 Organic production also contributes positively to biodiversity.7
Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that, when designing and implementing the Union's policies, the European Union and its member states must fully take into account the welfare of animals as sentient beings.8 Preventative animal healthcare measures and good animal welfare additionally contribute to more effective animal production and help to keep the use of antibiotics at a minimum. All antibiotics use increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, which constitutes one of the greatest threats to public health worldwide.9
Something that all meat producers have in common is that their greatest impact is caused by the use of feedstuffs and animal husbandry; transports and packaging constitutes a relatively small portion of the environmental footprint from each kilogramme of meat.10
Subject of procurement
Food products with meat (beef, pork and lamb) ingredients with environmental, climate and animal welfare criteria