Brazil – Technical dialogues on sustainability and traceability in the beef and leather value chains

AL-INVEST Verde, as part of the Component 2 execution and in collaboration with IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute), launched a series of technical dialogues to discuss challenges, opportunities and future endeavours for the sustainability and traceability of beef and leather value chains in Brazil. The overall objective of this initiative is to contribute to the identification and promotion of collective practices and partnerships among key stakeholders due to the great importance of these sectors to climate change and environmental policies. The opening roundtable was held on the 2nd and 3rd December and, subsequently, three dialogues were organized. The final event will be held in September.

  • I technical dialogue – “Increasing productivity in a sustainable way” with due diligence (17.03.2022)

Held on March 9th, 2022, the first “Technical Dialogue on the Sustainability and Traceability of the Beef and Leather Value Chain” focused on “the role of due diligence in the regularization of the beef and leather value chains”. The dialogue gathered, in a virtual format, more than 40 relevant actors, representing the Brazilian public sector (at the federal and sub-federal level), the European Commission, international organizations, the beef and leather value chain (meatpackers, retailers, importers), certification agents, the academia and civil society from Europe and Brazil. The meeting is part of a larger initiative funded by the European Union, through the AL-INVEST Verde Program, in partnership with IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute).

In this first technical dialogue, participants presented their understanding of the challenges and opportunities in implementing due diligence in the beef and leather value chain as a tool for improving sustainability and reducing deforestation. After an introduction on the process of due diligence and the recent regulatory developments in the EU and Brazil, participants discussed the relevance and impact of the due diligence process on these value chains and potential channels for cooperation.

The participants highlighted the relevance of the discussion for the economy linked to livestock farming and the commitments to mitigate climate change and reduce deforestation. They stressed the importance of understanding the origins and the complexity of the deforestation issue in Brazil, and the need for public-private partnerships for the implementation of traceability systems that allows tracking products from the farm all the way up to consumers. The dialogue also focused on how the due diligence tool must adapt to the specific conditions of each value chain and the importance of adopting measures that incentivize farmers to increase productivity while protecting native forests.

The overall objective of this initiative is to contribute to the identification and promotion of collective practices and partnerships among key stakeholders for the sustainability of the beef and leather value chain.

Download the Executive Summary here.

  • II technical dialogue – Access to technology is one of the keys to efficient and sustainable production (02.05.2022)

Held on 20 April 2022, the second “Technical Dialogue on the Sustainability and Traceability of the Beef and Leather Value Chain” focused on “Access to Technology for the Sustainability” in these chains. The dialogue is part of a larger initiative funded by the European Union, through the AL-INVEST Verde programme, in partnership with IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute).

The dialogue gathered, in a virtual format, more than 40 relevant actors representing the Brazilian public sector (at the federal and sub-federal levels), the European Commission, international organizations, key stakeholders of the beef and leather value chain (meatpackers, retailers, importers), certification agents, the academia and civil society from both Europe and Brazil.

After an introduction focused on the challenges of cattle ranching in the Amazon, participants highlighted the importance of access to technology for improving sustainability in these chains. According to them, in addition to discouraging the deforestation of new areas, technology is crucial in increasing the productivity of small, medium, and large rural properties, enabling environmental sustainability linked to an increase in farmers’ income. For this reason, it is essential to invest in technical assistance to promote better production and management practices.

Attendees cited some existing technological resources and actions – such as crop-livestock integration, use of forages in association with legumes, pasture recovery techniques, pasture rotation, and adequate nutrition, among others – to increase access to technologies. If implemented, they would improve the beef and leather chains’ productivity, sustainability, transparency, and traceability.

The issue of the adoption of new technologies and the raising of standards happening in response to consumer demand was also addressed. Recent global trend data has shown a new consumer preference for more sustainable products.

Traceability was identified as a possible technology to monitor the entire chain. However, an improvement in coordination and information sharing is needed. According to the invited experts, networking in integrated value chains, such as beef and leather will facilitate the development of adequate traceability systems. However, robust governance will be needed to promote and align economic incentives among all actors.

Participants also highlighted the need to implement technologies and criteria to gain scale in a country as vast as Brazil. They also stressed the importance of access to credit and technical and managerial assistance that allows the producer to carry out their activities more efficiently. Smaller-scale producers often face more significant obstacles to adapting independently, yet, they are often the main ones affected by internal or external restrictions.

This second dialogue follows previous discussions held during the opening roundtable in December 2021 and the first technical dialogue on March 9, 2022. The third and final dialogue of the round will take place on May. Guests will discuss traceability as a tool to improve sustainability. The outcomes of the three dialogues will be presented during a final event, open to the public, in September 2022.

Download the Executive Summary here.

  • III technical dialogue – Traceability systems to increase sustainability in the beef and leather chain (18.02.2022)

Held on 18 May 2022, the third “Technical Dialogue on the Sustainability and Traceability of the Beef and Leather Value Chain” gathered 40 participants, who dealt with traceability as an answer to improve sustainability in the beef and leather chains.

The event gathered virtually more than 40 relevant actors representing institutions from Brazil and the European Union in sectors linked to the mentioned chains, such as the public sector, producers, exporters and distributors, civil society organizations and universities among others. 

During the event, IPAM presented twelve traceability experiences developed in Brazil and an in-depth analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, carried out through a survey developed as part of this initiative.

Throughout the dialogue, participants agreed on the importance of traceability for sanitary and health purposes, but also for implementing socio-environmental sustainability in the value chain, specifically in the fight against illegal deforestation. A representative from a civil society organization mentioned that traceability is a tool that increases the knowledge of the territory.

Other actors also highlighted that traceability also permits generating a prompt response to adverse events, strengthening risk management and resiliency of the chain. Finally, participants underlined that reliable and efficient traceability systems also improve the quality of the product, fostering trade opportunities. Overall, it is possible to achieve transparency through traceability.

The need for better coordination between the federal government and the states has emerged as one of the challenges in developing an efficient traceability system that can gain scale. It would be fundamental to adopt a national policy and regulatory framework in this sense.

Existing data could also be better exploited, especially for tracking indirect providers; yet, data management poses privacy issues yet to be addressed. Finally, a survey conducted during the event showed that the lack of network infrastructure, the absence of financial incentives, and the need for technical assistance are the main obstacles for medium and small farmers to participate in traceability systems.

Next steps:

This third dialogue follows previous discussions held during the opening roundtable in December 2021, the first technical dialogue on March 9 and the second technical dialogue on April 20. The outcomes of these three dialogues will be presented during a final hybrid event in Brasilia, in September.

Download the Executive Summary here