Evaluating the potential for greenhouse gas reduction from a commercial beef supply chain – MRes Scholarship


Evaluating the potential for greenhouse gas reduction from a commercial beef supply chain

School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University

Project ID: BUK2E082
Annual Stipend: £11,937
Application Deadline: Monday 12 December 2022.

This studentship will provide a comprehensive insight into one of the most pressing issues and research questions of our time: how to improve the sustainability of food production systems. The red meat sector is under considerable pressure from consumers and legislators to reduce its environmental impacts, and has made ambitious commitments to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The UK has pledged to be net carbon neutral by 2050, so there has been much discussion about the potential for zero carbon beef and sheep production.

As the red meat sector is challenged to move towards carbon neutrality, there is an urgent need to better quantify the opportunities for reducing GHG emissions through best practice, and abatement via off-setting or sequestration. This project involves an exciting collaboration between researchers at the School of Natural Sciences at Bangor University with Kepak Ltd., one of the biggest beef processors in Europe. Kepak has over 50 years expertise in the trade, it has many international food brands, and supplies most of the leading retailers in the UK.

This project will capitalise from, and further develop, a strong research theme within the School of Natural Sciences which is helping the red meat sector reduce GHG emissions and other environmental impacts.  By utilising a very large dataset that Kepak has on its supply chains, together with the outputs of ongoing and recently completed projects at the School, this studentship will help identify the combination of efficiency, mitigation, off-setting measures, and the changes to production systems that can help reduce the GHG emissions associated with beef production in Wales. The project will apply a Consequential Life Cycle Assessment (cLCA) and Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) approach to:

i) Calculate the trend in the environmental footprint of the Kepak producer group over the past seven years,

ii) Prioritise and identify suitable and cost-effective mitigation strategies at the supplier group scale, and

iii) Estimate the potential to reduce the overall environmental footprint of Kepak suppliers by implementing best-practise measures across farms.

The outputs from this studentship will help Kepak generate indicators of sustainable production, and inform future procurement and marketing strategies to consider the environmental performance of different supply streams. Outputs will include a peer-reviewed publication, and knowledge transfer events and material to inform industry leaders, policymakers, and the retail sector.

The student will be supervised by Prysor Williams, James Gibbons, and Dave Chadwick at Bangor University; with Bob Rees from SRUC and David Styles (NUI Galway) as external supervisors. The successful student will join a group of PhD and MSc students exploring the impact of agricultural systems and land management options on environmental footprints (e.g., on emissions of GHGs and ammonia). They have led and contributed to international, multi-partner projects, as well as smaller, bespoke projects with individual industry partners. They are extremely well-linked to stakeholders in industry, academia and policy, and sit with external partners on a number of highly relevant committees at both a national and international level.

For enquiries, please email Prysor.williams@bangor.ac.uk

To apply, send a CV and covering letter to Prysor Williams (Prysor.williams@bangor.ac.uk) and cc Penny Dowdney (p.j.dowdney@bangor.ac.uk) by Monday 12 December 2022.

KESS 2 East is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for East Wales.

Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the East Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.