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Perdue Farms on Going Green: Manufacturer looks back on historic company changes in sustainability and stewardship.

Perdue Farms called last year a watershed year in terms of stewardship. It may be more apt to liken it to a time of sea change.

After spending the first months of 2017 evaluating and calculating its efforts, Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue Farms released its 2016 Stewardship Report mid-year, noting that the company underwent major shifts in poultry farming and production, emphasizing the impact on food, the environment and animal care.

For example, Perdue became the first major poultry company to move all of its chicken production to a no-antibiotics-ever program in 2016. The switch involved removing all human and animal antibiotics from the feed and hatchery, eliminating the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and raising animals in a way that does not require antibiotics for disease prevention. As for animal sickness, Perdue has a policy of not withholding appropriate treatment and will administer a short, targeted course of antibiotics when a veterinarian prescribes them, which happens in about 5% of chicken flocks.

The significant move came after stakeholder concerns and a new consumer mindset and marketplace. "Our Company Stewardship Report is a way of reporting back to all stakeholders on what we've done, and are doing, to address the things that matter to them," said chairman Jim Perdue in a statement, noting that antibiotic use was one of the biggest areas of stakeholder concern.

In addition to its landmark declaration of no-antibiotics-ever, Perdue Farms responded to the other significant stakeholder concern of animal welfare. To that end, the third-generation company committed to major changes in the way it raises chicken, following its platform of believing in responsible food and agriculture.

Some of those changes included the goal of increasing bird activity through natural lighting and enrichments, and increasing the amount of space for chickens. Perdue also sought research on slower-growing breeds and has committed to move from electrical to gas stunning. In 2017, the company reported that it has made progress on its goals of continuous improvement with greater transparency, with steps like incentive pay and video monitoring to emphasize appropriate care of birds, among other initiatives.

The wave of changes continued at Perdue throughout 2016 and into 2017. The company instituted a compost operation as part of its ongoing efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay and Delmarva's waterways. The new operation--a $12.5 million capital project--extended Perdue's program of handling surplus poultry litter from Delmarva poultry farms, while adding the capacity to recycle nutrients from other by-products, many of which were previously land-applied.

Perdue's leaders also sought to lower the company's water use, an effort that resulted in a 4.6% reduction. The company hit a mark on carbon dioxide emissions as well, cutting them by almost 6% over the last three years after lowering its fossil fuel and electricity use.

For Perdue, the notion of stewardship extends to the company's employees. According to the Stewardship Report, Perdue's workplace safety record continued to beat the average not just for poultry companies but also that of all manufacturing workplaces, with a lost-time rate one-fourth of that of the manufacturing sector. Perdue also received the highest number of safety awards of any poultry company from the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council.

6%

of Perdue's carbon dioxide emissions were cut over the last three years.
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Title Annotation:POULTRY
Publication:Winsight Grocery Business
Date:Dec 1, 2017
Words:546
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