The American Meat Institute (AMI) has unveiled a new Web site http://www.sustainablemeatindustry.org/, designed to help meat and poultry companies implement sustainability programs.
The site was developed by AMI's Sustainability Committee chaired by Paul Rutledge of Johnsonville Sausage, LLC, and Leigh Ann Johnston of Tyson Foods Inc. Information contained on the site is grouped in key areas that fall under the sustainability umbrella: caring for the environment, caring for livestock, benefiting communities, ensuring safe and nutritious meat and poultry and caring for our employees.
The site was launched at the close of AMI Chairman Rod Brenneman's tenure. Brenneman, the president of Seaboard Foods, initiated an effort to enhance the Institute's sustainability efforts through expanded education, now underway in Chicago at Worldwide Food Expo; through a benchmarking survey and through a dedicated Web site that consolidates sustainability resources for the meat industry's unique needs.
Each section of www.SustainableMeatIndustry.org details industry guidelines and showcases examples of actual programs that have been implemented by industry members. The site also features a section about communicating about sustainability to various audiences and a resource section for small businesses that are just beginning sustainability programs.
On the site's home page, members of the industry may download a self-inventory to determine what practices they have in place in broad areas and which ones they may wish to explore further and consider implementing.
The site's home page also links to the results of an AMI member sustainability survey that details existing practices in place in the meat industry.
For example, the survey determined that between 2007 and 2008:
• There was a 7% reduction in water use per pound of product produced.
• Water output decreased by more than 8% (calculated per gallon of water output per pound of product produced).
• Electricity use decreased by more than 20% per pound of product.
• Natural gas consumption decreased by 5.6% overall and decreased 5.4 per pound of product produced.
• Solid waste recycling increased 8%.
• Packaging material recycling increased by 15%.
The survey also found that an array of community programs are in widespread use including food bank support and hunger relief efforts, tutoring, participation in charity walks and support for many local charities.
In terms of employee programs, the survey determined that companies offer a wide variety, including child care assistance, health insurance, wellness programs, flu shots, discounts on meat purchases and chaplain programs.
“I am pleased by the new sustainability resources that we've developed at AMI during the last 12 months,” Brenneman said.
“Sustainability is an increasing priority for our retail and foodservice customers and for consumers. This new Web site will be a valuable resource to the industry and will help communicate to our customers the commitment we hold to the various areas – from employee care to the environment – that fall under the sustainability umbrella.”