- Smithfield Foods Inc. is working on an eight-year plan to slice a quarter of its carbon emissions, which the pork company hopes will both lower costs and burnish its brand, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Some of the things Smithfield is doing include scaling back applications of fertilizer used to grow grain for pig feed and installing systems to extract natural gas from manure.
- The company estimates it emits nearly 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, almost half as much as five coal-fired power plants. By 2021, Smithfield hopes to install conversion systems on approximately 70 of its 250 company-owned hog farms; it currently has only 20.
Smithfield’s ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions is an important measure that others in the meat industry may want to emulate. The company worked with the Environmental Defense Fund on its plan, which is the most ambitious commitment by a U.S. meat company to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions to date.
According to a study done by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the ratio of fossil-fuel energy needed to produce one unit of food energy is 35:1 for beef production, compared to 3:1 for all U.S. agricultural products combined.
A study by Nielsen showed that two-thirds of U.S. consumers will pay more for a product marketed as sustainable, so it only makes sense that those involved in the $198 billion meatpacking industry try to appeal to more green-friendly consumers.
The National Restaurant Association noted that locally sourced meat was one of the biggest trends in 2016. That trend is expected to rise in the years ahead as more companies look to sustainable measures to increase business.