Jaap de Wit: ‘Pork’s CO2 footprint shows it’s a sustainable source of protein’

What started with an idea of ​​a pig breeder and a developer who felt things had to be done differently, grew over 25 years to Chain Sustainable Pork (KDV). ‘A chain of pioneers’, says President Jaap de Wit. ‘We do a lot of research and try to find solutions in practice.’

About 250 KDV pig farmers took the trip to IJsselstein in Utrecht on 21 May. They went to the chain partner Westfort slaughterhouse. The background for this is the presentation of the annual report. And for the first time in three years, it’s happening live again. In addition, the meeting this time is extra festive, because KDV exists for 25 years.


The procedures that companies must adhere to when applying for an application hold back innovations

Jaap de Wit, chairman of KDV

KDV Chairman Jaap de Wit, Supply Chain Director at Westfort, fills his position with pride. “Like 25 years ago, pig breeding is now going through turbulent times. But thanks to our chain, we have a solid answer to all the challenges that come our way. ‘

Has KDV therefore calculated the CO2 footprint for a smoked sausage?

‘None. Much is said and written about the CO2 footprint of meat. And pork often gets Zwarte Piet. We would like to know if it is right or wrong. The footprint is calculated with a smoked sausage as a starting point. Everyone knows that product. ‘

What did it bring?

The first preliminary results show that the CO2 footprint of a KDV smoked sausage is 4.4 kilos of CO2 equivalents per kilo of smoked sausage. It can be compared to a vegan variant where no animal products are used at all. If you calculate the CO2 footprint from the protein content, the KDV smoked sausage scores even better than a vegetarian or vegan variant. Pork is therefore an excellent alternative to protein. ‘

Why is the public picture different?

‘By comparison, meat substitutes and South American beef are usually in contrast. There is now an unjustified perception that meat substitutes are healthier and less harmful to the environment. Meat consumption in Western Europe may need to be reduced, but only on the basis of the right arguments.

“If you compare meat substitutes and pork based on protein content, they are more expensive, unhealthy, less nutritious and at least as harmful to the environment. I am convinced that meat substitutes will fall through the basket at some point. Or an alternative must break through. ‘

What does KDV do with the information?

‘We would like to know how we did as KDV, but we also wanted to understand how such a CO2 footprint is created and how we can improve it.

Therefore, Blonk Consultant has not only made a calculation, but also developed an instrument to continue to be able to monitor our chain’s CO2 impact. And to make it more sustainable, for example through feed or manure processing. Supermarkets start their own investigations and start asking for them. ‘

The footprint of KDV founder Hans Verhoeven’s experimental farm shows an even more favorable picture.

‘It is true. He applies daily manure on his farm and the manure is fermented. Source-oriented approach such as day fertilization is a super logical story. But we are unfortunate not to be in a sexy industry.

“The problems that politicians keep talking about can all be solved with innovations that have long been tested in practice. But someone who has been working on an application for permission for about six years will not change that. He is afraid that because of this, the whole circus will start again and he will be left out. That’s the big mistake. The procedures that companies have to follow hamper innovation in the sector. ‘

There is no innovation and development without a chain, is your statement. What do you mean by that?

‘You had previous research institutes and a budget. But it’s different now. Over the years, KDV has always invested serious money in research into innovations and tried to connect to grant processes.

‘We never sit still, we’re always looking for ways to optimize. A good example is the individual animal identification, which we have addressed as a chain. As an entrepreneur, you do not do it alone. ‘

What has brought it so far?

About 260 UBNs are connected to KDV, of which 160 now work with individual animal recognition and use RFID chips. Since 2017, KDV has supplied pork with Antibiotic-Free Life Guarantee (ALG). We started with five pig breeders, then we scaled up to thirty and now we are rolling it out throughout the chain. You can not make such a product claim without individual animal identification.

“Our pig breeders are already recording a lot of data, which shows that there are big differences between the companies. This means that there is room for development. With data you can uncover where the differences are. But what will soon be the profitable key figure that everyone will aim for has not yet crystallized. ‘

What are you most curious about?

»KDV is already working on an index where the exact age per day is linked to the exact yield of the pig. But if opportunities such as stable climate and feed are also linked in addition to individual animal data, an entrepreneur gets even better insight. What buttons does he need to turn to perform better technically and achieve more returns? Business operations are becoming more data-driven.

»Hans Verhoeven’s experimental farm, for example, has a high health status. There we see that the animals grow better and that the spread in age is not greater than a week, with constant weights. While in practice it is an average of one month. And there are companies where the difference is even greater. If you as an entrepreneur have insight into your data, you can make better decisions in such situations. ‘

25 years with Sustainable Pork Chain

The Sustainable Pork Chain starts in 1997 with a club of pig breeders and a wholesaler in the Eindhoven region. The chain has been working with Westfort since 2004. The growth is rapid. More and more supermarkets are joining, and the number of farms is rising to more than 250. The products with the KDV brand are now also finding their way outside the Netherlands. At the start in 1997, the members met Milieukeur’s requirements. Since 2010, they have been tested annually by an independent certification body for healthy animals, care of mother and piglets, the animal’s habitat, mineral cycles, biodiversity and soil, energy neutrality, food safety and quality and smart farming. KDV stands for an integrated approach. Data from the participants have been stored since the beginning, including on climate issues. It shows, for example, that nitrogen and phosphate emissions are below the standard for all animal categories. The same applies to copper and zinc, which are added to the feed and the energy consumption per. kilogram growth.

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