ABP is working with partners including Icelandic Research Institute Matís and UK data specialist Agrimetrics to explore the feasibility of going beyond existing DNA traceability systems to make it faster and easier to verify the origins of meat – and make that information available at the point of purchase and consumption. Called BLINK, the project forms part of ABP’s wider involvement with EIT Food, a pan-European consortium that is finding solutions to today’s most pressing food challenges.
Commenting on the collaborative partnership, James Draper, ABP UK, said, “We are delighted to be part of an international collaboration that is playing its part in improving the sustainability of future food production and consumption. The new concept looks to take advantage of recent advancements in DNA profiling and looks to combine with other digital data sources – to provide farm to fork traceability at the point of purchase and consumption.’
Work on the project started in early 2020 and the project will now be evaluated to establish how realistic and feasible providing farm to fork traceability at the point of purchase is given current technology within the required commercial constraints.
ABP has announced a new mentorship initiative with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) for its agri-skills development programme, the ABP Angus Youth Challenge. Each team on the finalist programme will now benefit from a dedicated mentor selected from CAFRE’s beef and sheep advisory team. The mentors will work with their teams over the next 18 months, encouraging them to reach their full potential and inspiring them to apply best practice in the rearing of their Angus cross calves through to finishing.
Each team has been assigned a specific project to research. Most importantly they will be able to tap in to CAFRE’s expertise relevant to their assignments by exploring and applying modern techniques and technologies that for example reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and the use of animal health plans.
Explaining the rationale behind the initiative, Liam McCarthy who is Head of Supply Chain Development for ABP in Northern Ireland said, “ABP is delighted that CAFRE is providing this valuable resource to our ABP Angus Youth Challenge participants. Covid-19 restrictions have created a challenging environment for the learning and development of our young people. The mentors will help bring an exciting and motivating dimension to the finalist programme. Above all, we believe that this additional interaction for participants will be extremely beneficial to them during these difficult times.”
CAFRE’s Head of Beef & Sheep Branch, Paul McHenry added, “Our advisors are looking forward to working with their mentees and bringing out the best in the ABP Angus Youth Challenge participants.”
The five finalist teams and their mentors are: Ballymena Academy, Co. Antrim - Assignment theme: Future-proofing beef farming through agri-technology; Mentor: Stephen Flanagan
Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle - Assignment theme: Exploring the benefits of a holistic approach to animal performance; Mentor: Natasha Ferguson
Castle Tower School, Co. Antrim - Assignment theme: The Positive Impact of Farming & Agriculture on our Lives; Mentor: Hannah McNelis
Magherafelt High School, Co. Londonderry - Assignment theme: Meeting expectations of consumers for a quality eating experience; Mentor: Jack Friar
Omagh Academy, Co. Tyrone - Assignment theme: Explore the opportunities for a low carbon Angus beef brand for Northern Ireland Mentor: Gareth Beacom
Macra Agricultural Skillnet recognised its outstanding young leaders at the 2020 ABP National Leadership Awards tonight, Wednesday 2nd on Zoom.
The winners were:
John Keane, Devils Bit Macra, North Tipperary
Helen Dempsey, Mountmellick Macra, Laois
Helen Hayes, Devils Bit Macra, North Tipperary
The other finalists were:
John O Driscoll, Caheragh Macra, Carbery Region, Cork
Claire Gough, Athboy Macra, Meath
Jonathan Dwyer, Devils Bit Macra, North Tipperary
The purpose of the competition is to promote Young Leaders and acknowledge the volunteers in Macra and the massive amount of work they put into developing their local communities.
“The participants across the competition demonstrated the best in leadership which Macra na Feirme is famous for developing. The deserving winners are those who have gone above and beyond to grow the organisation and mature as leaders themselves”, Macra National President Thomas Duffy said.
The evening heard from Eoin Ryan on behalf of ABP, who announced the winners. “ABP is delighted to be associated once again with the National Leadership Awards. I would like to commend all of the participants and particularly finalists on their achievement in reaching this stage of the competition and I wish them every success in the future. In what has been an unprecedented year, it is inspiring to experience first-hand the enthusiasm, energy and leadership that each of the finalists has demonstrated throughout the finals process and to learn about their positive impact in Macra and in their local communities”.
The event was hosted by Ruairi McKiernan, charity founder, social innovator, podcast host and Irish author. Sarah Colgan, one of the founders behind the 20x20 women in sport campaign also joined on the evening and spoke of the success of the campaign.
This year's six finalists were judged by a panel comprised of:
Seamus Phelan (Macra na Ferime Past President)
Joanne Fearon (UCC)
Eoin Ryan (ABP Food Group)
ABP has achieved Platinum Level in Business in the Community’s 2020 NI Environmental Benchmarking Survey. The survey was conducted with 100 organisations as a comparison tool and to identify areas where they can improve their environmental impacts. It recognises and rewards organisations that are going above and beyond their legal environmental requirements.
“As a business depending on natural resources to produce its products, ABP fully understands its responsibility to ensure that those resources are in place for the next generation,” said George Mullan, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland. “For this reason, operating with sustainability as a core principle goes to the very heart of our business. ABP is a fully integrated agri-business. This means that its main business function - the processing of beef - is supported by three supporting businesses: a pet foods division, a renewables division and a proteins division. This unique structure ensures that ABP’s products are processed in the most sustainable manner possible.”
Last year, ABP’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets were validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) demonstrating the company’s commitment to aligning its sustainability strategy to the global climate change goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The new targets address GHG emissions across ABP’s business (scope 1 & 2 emissions) and its supply chain (scope 3 emissions).
Chair of Business in the Community NI and Group Chief Executive of Translink, Chris Conway, said: “Stakeholders, suppliers and the general public increasingly consider sustainability to be of utmost importance and the Survey is a way for organisations to publicly demonstrate their commitment to a greener future. I want to congratulate and thank all companies that have stepped forward to take part in the Survey, and report on their environmental practices.”
The survey is sponsored by Moy Park and supported by Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Teenagers from 13 schools across the province have taken part in this year’s semi-final of the ABP Youth Challenge, a skills development initiative for teenagers from the agri-food business ABP.
Judging of this year’s semi-final took place online due to Covid 19 restrictions with teams presenting their ideas and displays to camera for a panel of independent judges.
The judges included representatives from leading organisations across the farming, agri-food and education sectors including Queen’s University Belfast; Southern Regional College; the Ulster Farmers Union; the Livestock and Meat Commission; ASDA, Ulster Bank; DAERA; CAFRE, and Business in the Community NI.
The teams that progress to the next stage will take part in an 18-month skills development programme. Under the guidance of ABP and the NI Angus Producer Group the finalists will be rewarded with a hands-on experience of rearing Angus cross calves and profiting from their sale to ABP; whilst gaining employability skills and knowledge of the beef industry. The proceeds of the sale of each team’s calves to ABP will be awarded to each group. One overall winning team will also receive a £1,000 cash prize for their school.
This year’s semi-finalists were from Ballymena Academy; Ballycastle High School; Banbridge Academy; Belfast Royal Academy, Castle Tower Special School Ballymena; Cookstown High School; Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle; Dalriada Ballymoney; Gaelcholáiste Dhoire Dungiven; Magherafelt High School; Omagh Academy; Royal School Armagh; and Saintfield High.
Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan said, “ABP is committed to playing its part in developing the next generation for a sustainable of the local agri-food sector. The ABP Angus Youth Challenge aims to help bridge the gap between school and employment. We are delighted so many schools were able to take part during these challenging times. It is a clear signal of the benefits the competition brings to young people.”
The schools currently engaged in the 2019 – 2021 finalist programme are Aughnacloy College, Fivemiletown College, the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Wallace High School.
The competition is also open to new entrants until 27th November. For details of how to take part visit: www.abpangusyouthchallenge.com
ABP has opened its agri-skills development programme to new entries from 14-16 / Years 11 & 12. The ‘ABP Angus Youth Challenge,’ is an award-winning education partnership that offers a host of opportunities for teenagers to develop skills and knowledge that can help them bridge the gap between school and the world of work.
The competition is open to teams of two to four individuals from schools, clubs, societies or even a group of friends. Entry is by way of a short video which must be submitted by the team on or before noon, 27th November 2020.
Each team that reaches the final stage of the competition, receives a mini-herd of 5 Aberdeen Angus Calves to rear through to finishing. They will be rewarded with the proceeds of the sale of their five calves to ABP.
Alongside this, the teams participate in research assignments that will expand their knowledge and interest in sustainable beef production. They are also given training to enhance their work-life skills such as interview skills and presentation techniques.
“Aspects of the programme will be adapted to meet Covid-19 restrictions at the time whilst ensuring the participants can benefit from the learning experience,” explains Charles Smith, competition organiser and General Manager of the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group. “We are committed to helping develop the work-life skills of young people at a time when they have missed out on so much. With the support of parents and teachers, the competition gives teenagers who are interested in agri-food production a chance to shine.”
One overall winning team will receive £1,000 for their school, club, or society at the end of the finalist programme.
Pupils taking part to date have come both from rural and city schools. “The competition attracts pupils who are studying the GCSE in Agriculture & Land Use or a BTEC in Agriculture. Other participants are interested in enhancing their CV for a variety of jobs and careers that the agri-food sector can offer, from food science; production; veterinary science; finance & business management to logistics and procurement,” continued Charles Smith.
Entrants do not have to live on a farm to take part. ABP and the Angus Producer Group will assist participants in the selection of suitable NI FQA farms. For further details and entry forms visit www.abpangusyouthchallenge.com
ABP NI has been recognised by the responsible business movement, Business in the Community Northern Ireland (BITC NI) with two separate accolades. The company has been named a Responsible Business Champion in both the Education Partnership and Environmental Leadership categories. ABP was recognised for its leadership in environmental sustainability within the agri-food sector. The company is also a BITC NI Climate Change Champion. Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan said, “ABP has already adopted a science-based target measuring model to our environmental strategy across our business here and the wider group. We have several projects underway, including a new dairy beef partnership with Dale Farm which is supporting the sustainability of dairy beef production through the reduction of emissions using the very latest in animal genetic research. As a Climate Change Champion, we are supporting BITC NI’s campaign to invite local businesses to sign up to a pledge to cut their GHG emissions ahead of the UK government trajectory to achieving Net Zero by 2050.”
ABP’s skills development programme for teenagers, the ABP Angus Youth Challenge was also highlighted as a solid education partnership that has succeeded in raising the aspirations of young people. The ABP Angus Youth Challenge, launched in 2017, helps teenagers aged between 14-16 years of age to bridge the gap between education and employment. 14 schools are currently competing in the 2020 semi final. George Mullan continued, “we have adapted certain aspects of the competition to the challenges of the pandemic and it will open again for new entries on 5th October.”
Congratulating ABP, Kieran Harding, Managing Director of Business in the Community Northern Ireland said, “there is no doubt that 2020 has been a very different year to the one we expected. However, throughout the pandemic, so far, I am continually heartened by the determination of companies across Northern Ireland to being even more responsible through their activities as they take care of their people, the environment and their communities.”
ABP Northern Ireland is championing a new Business in the Community (BITC) campaign - Business Action on Climate - that challenges organisations in Northern Ireland to address the climate crisis by working to achieve ambitious reduction targets for their greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.
A cornerstone of the campaign is the Climate Action Pledge which invites signatories to commit to cut their GHG emissions by 50% or 30% by 2030, ahead of the UK government trajectory to achieving Net Zero by 2050. ABP is part of the campaign steering group of Climate Champions, made up of leading business representatives that support the campaign and have been instrumental in setting and agreeing the terms of the Pledge.
The Campaign puts Northern Ireland businesses at the forefront of action on the climate crisis.
George Mullan, Managing Director, ABP Northern Ireland said, “We are delighted to be collaborating with like- minded businesses across Northern Ireland on this project. It is a natural step for us as we have already adopted a science-based target measuring model to our environmental strategy across our business here and the wider group.
We have a number of projects underway, including a new dairy beef partnership with Dale Farm which is supporting the sustainability of dairy beef production through the reduction of emissions using the very latest in animal genetic research. Response from farmers to date has been excellent.”
“This campaign and the Pledge is a way for our organisation to demonstrate to our communities, stakeholders, customers and staff that we have made a serious commitment to reducing our impacts on the environment. We’re delighted to be working with a team of climate champions and the wider BITC network to inspire others to do the same”.
To support signatories to achieve their targets, Business in the Community will provide a range of guidance and support including: climate literacy training; workshops and advisory support on climate related risks and opportunities; and GHG footprinting and guidance on measuring emissions. Through the campaign, BITC will share best practice examples from organisations in Northern Ireland and beyond and provide opportunities to network and collaborate with organisations in similar and different sectors, as well develop links to local carbon offsetting initiatives.
Kieran Harding, Managing Director, BITC, said: “We’ve had warnings about the very real threat of the climate breakdown for decades, but the COVID-19 crisis has shown that, even in a world stopped in its tracks, our GHG emissions have not decreased enough to meet the Paris Agreement and limit global temperature rise under 1.5°C.
“As we invent a new business norm, bolder, collaborative, and practical action is not only necessary, it’s urgent.
“Addressing climate breakdown and reducing our GHG footprint is integral for business, to enable us to build back better after COVID-19 for the benefit of business, our communities and the economy. Not only that, it’s necessary to ensure a liveable future and to create new opportunities that generate greater prosperity and wellbeing for all.
“There’s no time to waste - now is the time for business to collaborate and take action on the climate crisis, and the responsible business network can help.”