JBS sees sustainability as key to future business growth

Environmental and social aspects of sustainability are important aspects to the future business of global meat firm, JBS.

MSPhotographic, Bigstock
MSPhotographic, Bigstock

Brazil-based meat company, JBS S.A. has outlined its strategy, operational and financial performance in the recently published 2017 Annual and Sustainability Report.

Included in the report are the firm’s sustainability initiatives, which cover five global themes, namely team member health and safety, animal welfare, water, product integrity and climate change.

Among JBS’s 2020 Goals is a reduction in severe incidents among its staff by 15 percent year-on-year. As well as investing more than 130 million Brazilian real (BRL) in restructuring facilities and new equipment in this area in its South American operations, a health management system has been introduced to help its businesses address their particular issues. Elsewhere, the company continues to focus on identifying potential health risks and preventing incidents.

Animal welfare, antibiotic use, production systems

Animal welfare is critical for global level business sustainability, according to the JBS report, and is addressed—based on the “Five Freedoms”—at each of its operations. To strengthen and improve practices, the firm invested BRL14.7 million in Brazil, and US$19.6 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2017.

JBS Brazil set up an Animal Welfare Committee last year to improve management practices.  By 2020, all eggs used in its Seara brand products in Brazil will be cage-free, and there has been progress on gestation crates, with 45 percent of its sows in group-housed by the end of 2017. JBA also organized a campaign to improve foot and mouth disease vaccination of cattle last year.

On the use of antibiotics by JBS operations, Seara is committed to reducing their use throughout the supply chain. Pilgrim’s Pride in the U.S. adopted its own policy in 2016, which complies with FDA guidelines, and sub-therapeutic use has been discontinued. Antibiotics are no longer used routinely at Pilgrim’s Moy Park in Europe, and they are only administered under strict regulations.

Transportation of animals is an important phase for animal welfare, according to JBS. It is carried out by trained teams using vehicles that protect animals against injury and minimize stress.

In the U.S., one of GNP’s brands, Just Bare, is for organic chicken. It carries the American Humane Certified seal, and birds are stunned with gas before slaughter.

Pilgrim’s Moy Park is using differentiated animal welfare practices to create market opportunities, such as slower-growing birds, free-range access and organic production systems.

Last year, JBS Australia began processing its first certified organic beef cattle.

Environmental initiatives at JBS

On the company’s achievements in environmental sustainability during 2017, JBS is one of the leading proponents of programs to reduce deforestation and manage water resources, according to its president, José Batista Sobrinho. Its investments in these areas amounted to BRL806 million in 2017, down from the BRL855 million the previous year.

Water consumption by the firm in 2017 was 180.4 million cubic meters, a reduction of 5.5 percent from the previous year. Its Brazilian operations have cut water use by 12 percent, and there has been a six percent reduction by the firm’s other operations. JBS is also shifting its main sources of water capture away from surface, underground, and the public supply, and using more rainwater and water reuse systems. Global effluent volumes were reduced by 20 percent in 2017.

Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were also slightly lower in 2017 than in 2016. Direct emissions were down one percent to just over 6.05 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), while indirect energy emissions were reduced by two percent to 1.78 million tCO2e. The firm cut indirect emissions by six percent from 2016, to just over 593,000t CO2e.

The report also highlights other key achievements by JBS during 2017, which include the new Global Compliance area, “Always Do It Right” program, and the JBS Ethics Line. To expand its export potential, the firm also records its further commitment to quality and food safety with the creation of the Global Food Safety and Quality Assurance area.

JBS describes its 2017 operating performance as “one of the best in its history.” While net profit was down from 2016, gross margin increased to 14.6 percent from 12.5 percent the previous year, and net profit rose from BRL233.6 million to BRL534.2 million in 2017.

[Current exchange rate: BRL1,000 = US$283]

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