Supply Chain Communication
There is a growing trend among major manufacturers and retailers to establish corporate social responsibility programs that require suppliers to adhere to a corporate code of conduct, a regular schedule of monitoring visits, and a process of communicating remediation in order to verify and improve supplier compliance. The meat industry is no exception. Although many industry customers remain principally interested in cost, food safety, and animal welfare, more and more are pressing their environmental and social sustainability policies up the supply chain.
McDonald’s has been using a supplier scorecard for some time. Wal-Mart’s Packaging Scorecard and Sustainability Index uses specific metrics to measure suppliers relative to their competitors on a number of environmental aspects, including GHG emissions per ton of production, product/packaging ratio, recycled content, transportation and use of renewable energy. Wal-Mart buyers will soon use the Index for ranking suppliers and products for purchasing decisions.
With so many different “score cards” out there, taking the steps necessary to meet the expectations of one company does not necessarily ensure you will meet those of another. Although most customers are primarily interested in product quality, cost, safety, and consumer appeal, it is clear that more customers are interested in buying from “responsible companies,” and meat and poultry companies must be prepared to tell their stories.
Often, when meat and poultry companies begin the process of developing a sustainability program, they find that they have already put many “sustainable” practices into place. Those practices were just called something else – like food donations, animal welfare programs and training, energy conservation and wellness programs.