The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has changed its culture to better confront the increasing pressures to produce meat and poultry sustainably, and has launched the a joint initiative to accelerate momentum and verify progress toward global sustainable development goals across all animal protein sectors.
Animal protein producers, from poultry to seafood, are under increasing pressure to produce sustainability and this pressure is unlikely to go away.
Speaking at the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, which too place on the opening day of the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE), held in Atlanta, Georgia, US, in late January, Eric Mittenthal, NAMI's chief strategy officer detailed where sustainability pressures are coming from and how his organization is responding.
Both the meat industry as a whole and individual companies are being increasingly pressured to produce sustainably.
This pressure may be coming from investors, who are increasingly scrutinizing a sector’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) record; from the Good Food Finance Network - a multi-stakeholder collaborative innovation platform, working to develop the innovations that will allow sustainable food system finance to become the mainstream standard; governments, foodservice companies and even academics.
In response to this challenge, while NAMI may have felt that it was ideally positioned to be the voice of animal protein, it, nevertheless, felt it necessary to undergo a major culture change.
The organization has changed from a defensive position to embracing change, and from having a member to a consumer focus. It now seeks to be data driven, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence, and is focused on communication what it stands for, not what it is against.
First of its kind
Under its new Protein PACT initiative, a first of its kind, the organization is particularly looking at animal welfare, the environment, labor and human rights, food safety, health and wellness and wants companies to make commitments in these areas.
Importantly, it wants consistent metrics that align with others currently used, and many companies are already doing this. NAMI is aiming for 90% member participation this year and 100% by 2030. It's targets for areas of interest are approved, science-based targets that can be used to show that the industry is acting sustainably and that will build consumer trust.
Companies that are high performing in ESG fields have been found to be better performing generally than those that fail to do so. Mittenthal added that Increasing consumer trust could be hugely profitable for the industry as consumers spend with those they trust, but a loss of trust would have exactly the opposite effect.