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Source: Morrisons 

The retailer’s manufacturing arm Myton Food Group is aiming to use seaweed in its cattle feed by 2026

Morrisons has unveiled a new partnership between manufacturing arm Myton Food Group and environmental tech company Sea Forest to introduce seaweed-based livestock feed into its beef supply chain.

The tie-up will see Australia-based Sea Forest exclusively supply its SeaFeed methane-abating feed to Myton “to help fast-track the introduction of lower-carbon beef products such as mince, burgers, steaks and joints in Morrisons”.

Morrisons said approval was currently being sought to use the feed – which was a finalist for last year’s Earthshot environmental prize, launched by Prince William in 2020.

Once approval was secured, Myton would then be able to use the feed to “fast-track” the introduction of lower carbon beef products by 2026. The partnership supported Morrisons’ ambition to achieve net zero agriculture emissions from its directly supplied farms by 2030.

The compounds contained in SeaFeed – which occur naturally in a native Australian seaweed – inhibit the bacteria that produces methane in the complex stomachs of cows, sheep and goats, Morrisons said.

With UK agriculture accounting for 10% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and methane produced by cattle making up about half this figure, any feed additive that could inhibit the gas would have significant potential to reduce these emissions, it added.

Sea Forest has already collaborated with Australian burger chain Grill’d to introduce a beef burger made from grass-fed black Angus cattle that produced 67% less methane emissions.

When the product was included as a small fraction of the animals’ diet (approximately 0.5%), it was “scientifically proven” to reduce methane production without affecting the taste or quality of beef, Morrisons claimed.

“As British farming’s biggest direct customer, we are well placed to support the farmers we work with and help them farm more sustainably,” said Sophie Throup, technical and sustainability director at Myton Food Group.

“Having our own livestock experts with direct relationships with farmers enables us to make changes quickly, meaning that once our trial is complete and we have approvals in place, we can develop our lower-carbon beef products and help support the drive to lower emissions from cattle.”

Distributing SeaFeed to Morrisons was a “tremendous milestone” for Sea Forest, its CEO Sam Elsom said.

“SeaFeed has the potential to sustainably feed the planet while tackling one of the most challenging pieces of the climate puzzle,” he added. “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.”

The partnership marks the latest step in a research programme by Morrisons and Queen’s University Belfast, which is looking at the use of seaweed to help reduce methane production in cattle. 

Professor Sharon Huws, director of research at the Queen’s University Belfast School of Biological Sciences and Institute for Global Food Security (IGF), said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Morrisons and Sea Forest to provide the scientific evidence underpinning the journey towards net zero in the Morrisons beef chain.

“Innovation is at the centre of the IGFS ethos, and this collaboration is an important example of how our research translates into impact for the sector, and indeed for the health of our planet.”

The tie-up also represents the latest move by Morrisons to decarbonise its wider fresh food supply chain.

The retailer secured carbon neutral certification earlier this year for its Better For Our Planet Eggs, which were first launched in 2022 and sourced eggs from hens fed on a soya-free diet of food waste and insects, supplied by Cambridge-based agritech business Better Origin’s insect ‘mini farms’.