Tyson Foods announced a new multi-stakeholder global sustainability initiative alongside the 50th World Economic Forum held this week in Davos, Switzerland.
Seeking to advance the “future of global protein,” Tyson has created the “Coalition for Global Protein” that will convene leaders from the global protein industry along with academia, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and financial institutions.
The goal is to unite stakeholders across the food and agriculture sector to identify and implement new and creative solutions to sustainably feed the world’s growing population, the company said in a news release. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Lawrence Haddad, executive director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.
“Efforts to make the production of high-protein foods more sustainable must continue,” said Dr. Haddad. “These foods, many from animal sources, are vital for the healthy growth of young children, especially those who already have poor quality diets. So, it is vital that their production can be undertaken in a way that respects planetary environmental boundaries. This Coalition promises to be a valuable addition to our collective efforts to square this circle.”
Tyson Foods CEO Noel White said the Springdale, Ark.-based company wants to “help ensure the responsible production of affordable, nutritious food for generations to come. We’re introducing this Coalition because we know that we cannot achieve this alone. Collective commitment and immediate action are needed to deliver the greatest impact on the future of sustainable food production.”
The launch of the Coalition for Global Protein comes as livestock production around the world comes under increasing criticism for its contribution to climate change. While livestock’s actual GHG contributions are in dispute by many in the scientific community, activists and many consumer media outlets readily accept the most dire projections of the environmental damage caused by food animal production.
For instance, reporting on Tyson’s announcement of the “Coalition for Global Protein,” Yahoo! News called the initiative “the latest move by a meat giant to help scrub the industry’s image as a greenhouse-gas-emitting machine.”
Noting that livestock producers and meat companies like Tyson are seeking to take the initiative on sustainability instead of “being the punching bags” for environmental activists, Yahoo! News said to clean up its act, “giants like Tyson and Cargill Inc. are promising ambitious reductions in emissions, including in supply chains. Chief sustainability officers are popping up all over meat C-suites, and social media ads are touting beef’s misunderstood health benefits.”
For its part, Tyson says the coalition will focus on increasing understanding around the challenges of feeding a growing population and testing new ideas through pilot programs. Areas of focus may include reducing food loss and waste, increasing access to protein and protecting ecosystems.
“We’re focused on uniting the world’s most influential, food-focused stakeholders around a shared purpose to build a future of protein that is sustainable and equitable across global communities — at every link in the supply chain,” John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods, told Yahoo! “Igniting transformative change in our food system requires industry-wide collaboration and a willingness to go beyond our individual businesses through strong commitments and actions.”