- JBS, the global meatpacking leader, is joining other meat industry entities in abiding by consumer pressures for more transparency. It recently hosted a tour for journalists, including NPR.
- The company is beginning to engage more with consumers and the media, but JBS still will not reveal everything about its operations, citing the need to protect consumers from the gory details of harvesting meat.
- JBS tends to deal with other businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, rather than directly with consumers and had not felt compelled to share its story.
The meat industry and JBS must walk the line between being open to transparency, while trying to maintain control of its image.
"Part of you says, 'I need to learn how to bring the packing house into the consumer's living room,' " Bill Rupp, president of the company's beef division told NPR. "Then at the same time, you think of all the pitfalls of trying to explain to consumers how we harvest their meat."
Embracing transparency is especially important as JBS moves to acquire brands that are closer to direct contact with consumers, such as packaged foods and shelf-stable goods. One planned purchase is Cargill Inc.'s U.S.-based pork business to be acquired by JBS USA, announced earlier this month. What could also lead to more transparency for the company is if JBS ever firmly moves for an IPO, which it proposed last year but withdrew again in March.