Energy and Water Use in the Processing Sector

Project number:                    74308

Lead contractors:                 Christine Walsh, MLCSL

Start & end date:                   01 January 2010 – 01 July 2010

Actual end date:                    01 October 2010


The Problem:

A recent review commissioned by the AHRF KT group illustrated that the processing sector is the major energy user in the beef and sheep industry.  Little is known about water and energy use within this aspect of the supply chain.


Project Aims:

  1. To understand energy and water use within the processing sector; broken into abattoir, cutting plant and retail packing plant, and activity areas e.g. lairage, slaughter hall, gut room, chillers and offices.
  2. To generate benchmark figures that can be used by individual processors
  3. To produce and analyse figures that demonstrate the current position of the industry.
  4. To identify optimum performance in the industry in terms of water, energy and carbon.
  5. Raise awareness of where the industry is taking action to reduce resource use and publishing best practice
  6. To identify sustainable actions to reduce energy and water use per kg of carcase



MLCSL will interrogate data from Enviros and the Environmental Agency, and processors will be interviewed on current resource usages.



The average water use per tonne of beef carcase is around 3.5m3 and 2.85m3 for a tonne of sheepmeat.  Most of the water is used for washing and rinsing to comply with Meat Hygiene standards.  A major factor affecting water consumption is the amount of floor area used, plus the throughput and further processing of offals.  Management of effluent is an area that needs focus.  Guidance was provided on improving the energy efficiency of meat chilling.