US chicken industry reports sustainability progress

Posted: 15 September 2021 | | No comments yet

The National Chicken Council has revealed reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage per kilogram of bird produced from 2010 to 2020.

white organic chicken

The National Chicken Council (NCC) has released its inaugural sustainability report, in which it claims the US chicken industry has made “meaningful strides” in meeting reducing its impact on the environment and improving the conditions of the chickens it rears.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of US chickens raised for meat, known as “broilers,” and the industry’s progress in its environmental, broiler welfare and social impact journey.

The 2020 US Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report was submitted to the Scientific Group of the U.N. Food Systems Summit 2021, ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit to be held 23 September in New York City. 

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, which claims that land use is down 13 percent and greenhouse gas emissions are down 18 percent per kilogram of bird.  Fossil fuel emissions and water consumption also fell.

“We are feeding more people and raising each bird with less environmental impact and resources,” said Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs

“The Broiler Production System Life Cycle Assessment: 2020 Update confirms the US chicken industry has made meaningful strides in minimising our environmental impacts with the help of technological advancements and improved broiler welfare practices over the past decade.

“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 has highlighted other areas of progress made by the US chicken industry, including a reduction of farm mortality rates by 72 percent since 1925, and donating more than $133 million and 20 million meals to local communities at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

“The US 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 US 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 number one protein.”