WASHINGTON — The National Chicken Council on Sept. 15 released its inaugural sustainability report. The report provides a comprehensive overview of U.S. chickens raised for meat, known as “broilers,” and the industry’s collective progress in its environmental, broiler welfare and social impact journey, as well as efforts to build a more sustainable food system.
The 2020 U.S. Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report was submitted to the Scientific Group of the U.N. Food Systems Summit 2021, ahead of the U.N. Food Systems Summit to be held Sept. 23 in New York City. Guided and inspired by the call to action in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report is also intended to complement the important work being done by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs, which is developing a framework for collecting data to further innovation, drive improvements and support communication about the measured and verified sustainability of U.S. chicken.
Six essential industry topics are addressed in NCC’s report, including: air, land and water; broiler health and welfare; employee safety and wellbeing; food and consumer safety; community support; and food security. The report features new broiler life cycle assessment (LCA) data commissioned by NCC.
The Broiler Production System Life Cycle Assessment: 2020 Update reveals the broiler industry achieved significant improvements in key sustainability intensity metrics (environmental footprint per kilogram of bird) between 2010 and 2020:
- Land use: down 13 percent.
- Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon footprint): down 18 percent.
- Water consumption: down 13 percent.
- Fossil resources use: down 22 percent.
- Particulate forming emissions: down 22 percent.
“We are feeding more people and raising each bird with less environmental impact and resources. The Broiler Production System Life Cycle Assessment: 2020 Update confirms the U.S. chicken industry has made meaningful strides in minimizing our environmental impacts with the help of technological advancements and improved broiler welfare practices over the past decade,” said Dr. Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “The LCA sets the groundwork for the broiler industry’s next steps on the sustainability frontier and brings to light the exact areas in which we need to focus.”
In addition to environmental data, the report highlights the voices and stories of NCC members, chicken farmers and industry stakeholders, to demonstrate their unique sustainability successes and commitments.
“The U.S. chicken industry is committed to environmentally and socially sustainable production practices to ensure a healthier planet. This report is the culmination of that commitment, but it is also the starting point for many more years of collective effort by the U.S. chicken industry to continuously improve and build a more sustainable food system,” said Mike Brown, NCC president. “This past year, we faced COVID-19, extreme weather events, biosecurity issues and cybersecurity breaches. The U.S. chicken industry stood up to all of these challenges, and we remain even more committed to the sustainable production of America’s No. 1 protein.”
The report also features the U.S. chicken industry’s collective accomplishments, including:
- Decreasing broiler chicken on-farm mortality rates by 72 percent since 1925.
- Defining the essential elements of broiler chicken care with NCC’s Welfare Guidelines.
- Donating more than $133 million and 22 million meals to local communities at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
- Bolstering global food security with broiler exports totaling 7.4 billion pounds in 2020.
- Providing Americans and people across the world — throughout all life stages — with affordable, nutritious protein.
- Achieving an 86 percent decline in Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable injuries and illnesses in the poultry processing sector during the past 25 years.
“We take pride in how our chicken gets from farm to table, but we know that sustainability is a journey of collective successes and growth areas. It’s on us as an industry to review our impact and areas of improvement so that we can direct our industry toward a more sustainable future,” Brown said. “We invite all consumers to learn how the U.S. chicken industry is producing safe, nutritious and sustainable food. This new report is one resource to help shed light on the sustainable practices behind the food on their table.”
You can view the entire sustainability report here.