Members of the International Poultry Council (IPC), representing over 90% of the world’s fowl production, adopted a global sustainability strategy more than a year in the making in Alberta, Canada.
The sustainability strategy aims to minimise poultry production’s environmental impact; reduce foodborne pathogens to ensure meat is safe for consumption amid a booming global population; and ensure the entire sector grows in a way that does not compromise food security or lower the nutritional quality of meat.
It comes as meat companies face pressure to be greener while also producing record volumes of meat to feed a global population set to hit 9.1 billion in 2050.
Strategy to ‘stay ahead’
“Sustainability is often discussed but seldom defined, because it requires such a delicate balance,” said IPC president Jim Sumner, a former journalist and current president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.
“Looking ahead, our industry realises it must be able to continue its robust growth to feed a growing world. Even though poultry is already the most environmentally sustainable and efficiently produced animal protein, we must stay ahead of the game to meet the challenges before us, and this three-pronged strategy should help us do that.”
Dr Anne-Marie Neeteson of poultry breeding outfit Aviagen described the strategy as “groundbreaking”. However, she is chair of the IPC’s environmental sustainability group, so one should expect this style of exuberant rhetoric.
In Neeteson’s defence, there is cause for optimism. The long-term international roadmap for sustainable poultry production became a serious talking point at a conference in Lisbon more than a year ago. Since then, a group of IPC members worked diligently to devise a strategy that worked for everyone.
“Our challenge was to come up with a strategy that encompasses the necessity of continued growth for the industry, while at the same time conforming to increasing environmental and social constraints,” Neeteson said in a press statement, adding: “The strategy can be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015.”