Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef

Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef

FGVces launched the project “Carbon Footprint of Brazilian beef”, proposing to articulate the players and the knowledge necessary so that Brazil can know with confidence and credibility know the real impacts generated by the meat produced in the country, evaluating its entire life cycle, and relating this environmental factor to the product’s competitiveness in the international scenario, with focus on exports to the European Union.

The project has been conducted and executed in the context of the Applied Research Fund of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FPA-FGV), the main financier, and has the technical and institutional support of relevant partners, both below.

The method for studies that are based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), as the carbon footprint, is already fully dominated by Brazilian researchers. Despite this, national studies still depend on international databases. For this reason, the creation of local databases is the biggest challenge of a project like this and depends on specific and methodologically consistent surveys throughout the entire production chain. Therefore, the essential steps are to identify, raise awareness, mobilize and train its key members, who must commit themselves to an initial collective effort desired by the common interest. Once the players are trained and the database is constituted, the analyzes can be carried out, correlating the results with the competitiveness of the Brazilian product in the international scenario.


The main goals of the project are:

  • Apply the LCA technique in a pilot case, quantifying the carbon footprint of Brazilian beef; and
  • Increase awareness and engagement with life cycle thinking and the role of each player in the beef production chain; and
  • Discuss the competitiveness of the national product based on the environmental attributes evidenced in the carbon footprint, focusing on the European market; and
  • Disseminate the results of the study to support decision-making aimed at reducing GHG emissions in the Brazilian beef production chain and improving the product's competitiveness.



There are concrete signs that very soon socio-environmental aspects will be critical factors for the competitiveness of products in international markets, with direct impacts on important export sectors in Brazil. An example of recent demand for environmental product information is The Single Market for Green Products Initiative of the EU. This initiative recommends the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to measure the environmental performance of products, and predict the development of sectoral rules and standards for the communication of these aspects. It is possible that such a requirement will become mandatory for some products or sectors as of 2020. There is also a consolidation of type III labeling programs, which are voluntary programs in which environmental product information is configured in a transparent manner, which will enable the comparison between similar products.

One of the products that fits this arrangement is beef cattle. Knowing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from activities throughout their life cycle will be one of the demands. Therefore, it is necessary for the different players involved to mobilize to face what may be a threat or an opportunity for this productive chain of great relevance in the country. This effort will demand a comprehensive look and a genuine engagement of the parties, from the production of inputs, through the activities of creation, recreation and fattening, as well as the slaughter, production and transport involved in the product's life cycle. A key factor for this is the domain of scientific knowledge and specific data regarding beef cattle in Brazil, whether in the context of GHG information, or in the aspects of competitiveness. Only with autonomous and credible knowledge will Brazilian producers and exporters be able to sustain the potential benefits of the national product in relation to their competitors in the global market. Only then they will be able to accurately identify any weaknesses, and remedy them in an efficient and timely manner.


Since the beginning of the project, in May 2017, several activities have been carried out, including applied research, data and information collection, engagement and training, meetings with stakeholders, technical meetings and dissemination of the project at relevant events.

The main activities carried out were:

  • Kick-off of the project and 1st Meeting with stakeholders - August/2017
  • Technical webinar on carbon footprint - February/2018
  • 2nd Meeting with stakeholders - September/2018
  • 3rd Meeting with stakeholders - February/2019
  • Critical review of the carbon footprint study - October/2019
  • Reports launch - November/2019


Publications and Reports

Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef exported to the European Union: Executive Summary

This document summarizes the results of the Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef project, which includes data on the carbon footprint of beef cattle exported to the EU, reflections on export issues, recommendations for the sector and technical, methodological and practical learning. The product systems analyzed in the project were: (A) fresh meat produced in Brazil (general); (B) fresh meat produced in Brazil and exported to the European market; (C) fresh meat produced in Brazil and exported to the European market via Hilton Quota; and (D) fresh meat produced in Brazil with good environmental practices in a structured program.

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Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef exported to the European Union: results and assumptions for calculating product life cycle emissions

This report is an integral part of the Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef project. Its main objective is to provide technical support to support the discussions and analyzes of the project, presented in its final report entitled “Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef exported to the European Union: executive summary”.

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Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef exported to the European Union: analysis of the production chain and environmental aspects

This document addresses the analysis of the livestock chain in Brazil, its context, potentialities and challenges related to competitiveness and environmental aspects. The content of this document served to provide subsidies to other activities involving the Carbon footprint of Brazilian beef project, in particular the definition of the scope of the carbon footprint beef cattle studies. At the same time, the data gathered here will serve other players, who act directly or indirectly in this segment, since it gathers information and views from the three pillars of the project, which are rarely analyzed in a combined way.

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