Energy consumption

The red meat industry consumes significant quantities of fuel and electricity. Energy is one of the main resource inputs and rising costs of fuel and electricity as well as the impact on greenhouse gas emissions will continue to influence the usage of energy throughout the industry.

The major energy consuming activities are refrigeration and the production of steam and hot water. Less significant amounts of energy are used for lighting, ventilation, motors, pumps and the like.

The age and size of the processing plant, variations in the refrigerated product mix or the installation of value added meat processing facilities are factors that result in a large variation of energy usage across meat processing sites.

Even though there are still a number of low hanging fruits related to reductions in energy consumption and costs, the latest industry environmental sustainability review from 2010 shows an 18% increase in the energy consumption across processing sites since 2003. Part of the explanation may be attributed to changes in the methodology used, but the study does show that reducing energy consumption is an important challenge for the industry.

The majority of energy used is derived from:

  • grid electricity - 31.6%
  • natural gas - 37%
  • and coal - 19%.

In order to reduce energy consumption and costs as well as the environmental impact, MLA and industry partners continuously works on the identification of energy efficiency opportunities and the implementation of new energy smart technologies throughout the industry.  Furthermore the adoption of alternative sources of energy, such as solar, wind or fuel cells is also encouraged.  

MLA and AMPC also[SH1]  support the industry in identifying options for energy recovery from waste materials, such as using paunch waste as boiler fuel or recovering biogas from anaerobic lagoons.

MLA and industry partners are supporting the industry to achieve a reduction of energy consumption by 10% within the next few years. Positive results and energy savings were already achieved by a number of projects and initiatives, such as.:

  • flash steam recovery project on a boiler, delivered savings of 16,866 GJ/yr - equivalent to 5.3% of the plant’s usual energy consumption
  • reduction in hot water temperature, saving of 3,335 GJ/yr - 1.1% of the plant’s energy usage.