Chinese meat industry pursuing sustainable development with new Accountability Framework-aligned green trade specifications
26 October 2022
With 1.4 billion people and a growing middle class, China is the world’s largest market for imported beef, sourcing about 2.3 million metric tons in 2021.
By AFi Backbone Team and WWF-China
With 1.4 billion people and a growing middle class, China is the world’s largest market for imported beef, sourcing about 2.3 million metric tons in 2021. China also accounts for about 65% of total global soya imports, used primarily as an ingredient in animal feed. This large market footprint provides a key opportunity for the Chinese meat industry to be a force for sustainable development.
Toward this goal, last year the China Meat Association (CMA) collaborated with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to issue its “Specifications for Meat Industry Green Trade” to promote the sustainable development of China’s meat industry. The CMA is the overarching body for the Chinese meat industry, representing major state-owned and privately-owned meat companies. Given this reach, the Specifications constitute an important milestone toward responsible meat and animal feed supply chains in China.
To help ensure that the Specifications effectively addressed key supply chain sustainability issues, the CMA and WWF utilized the Accountability Framework as a foundation in developing the Specifications. This process led to the Specifications being aligned with the global good practices set out in the Accountability Framework in several respects, including:
- Scope: The Specifications’ requirement for deforestation-free and conversion-free supply chains extends to all products and related raw materials in the supply chain, including feed, livestock and poultry breeding, as well as the production, processing and trade of meat and meat products.
- Terms and definitions: To align with global norms, the Specifications include definitions (e.g., of deforestation) and other key concepts (e.g., cutoff dates and target dates) that align with the Accountability Framework.
- Supply chain management, monitoring, and reporting: The Specifications address key aspects of implementation in alignment with the Accountability Framework, including supply chain management, monitoring, mechanisms to address non-compliance, and reporting.
Alignment of the Specifications with the Accountability Framework means that they not only reflect global good practice but also are aligned with key supply chain standards and initiatives at sourcing origins – particularly South America, which is a primary source for Chinese beef and soy imports. As a founding member of the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi), for instance, WWF has developed implementation tools such as the Deforestation and Conversion Free (DCF) Toolkit to help South American suppliers of beef, soy, and leather move from commitment to action in alignment with the Accountability Framework.
Since publishing the Specifications, the CMA and WWF have focused on supporting their use by CMA members, and to date 15 Chinese companies have committed to follow the Specifications. To increase adoption and support implementation, WWF also developed implementation toolkits, adapted from the AFi’s company self-assessment tool and contextualized to the Chinese meat industry. These resources enable CMA staff to support members’ piloting and implementation of the Specifications.
Xin Yu, Priority Project Coordinator, Sustainable Food Consumption and Supply Chain from WWF China noted that the Framework offered a “clear and useful reference for developing industry standards that saved the CMA time, provided a clear structure for sector-wide discussions on implementation guidance, brought greater credibility to CMA members’ work, and enabled us to build on existing material rather than reinvent the wheel.”
To learn more about the Accountability Framework and how it can help your company or sustainability initiative, please contact the AFi at: email@example.com