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US-RSPE unveils first-ever full poultry and egg supply chain sustainability reporting framework

The "framework of the future" will show consumers and stakeholders the overall sustainability of the US chicken, egg and turkey supply chain from producer to shopper.

19 April 2021, at 8:54am

The US Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs revealed details of its “Framework” on 19 April — which is the first-ever, multi-stakeholder sustainability reporting framework for the full US supply chains for chicken, turkey and eggs from producer to final customer.

This assessment will equip the entire value chain to better communicate with its stakeholders about the overall sustainability of US poultry and create a clearer picture of how these products are produced.

“We’ve built the one thing everyone needs but nobody has yet,” said Ryan Bennett, executive director of US-RSPE. “With the US-RSPE Framework metrics, organizations will be able to provide transparent reporting on their sustainability and build plans to improve.”

US-RSPE also announced the Framework has moved from ideation, which began in early 2019, to practical application. Three full US supply chain pilots (broilers, eggs and turkeys) have been completed with input from leading companies including Butterball, Cal-Maine Foods, Cargill, Darling Ingredients, Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Iowa Turkey Federation, Kreher’s Family Farms, McDonald’s Corporation, Peco Foods, Sanderson Farms, Tyson Foods and West Liberty Foods. The pilot companies tested the Framework’s metrics to ensure they were effective and implementable ahead of the anticipated full launch to the industry early next year.

“We set up US-RSPE to be different, and you can see that in our structure,” said Bennett. “Those raising the birds worked side-by-side with their supply chain and environmental groups who have specific expertise in sustainability programs. This dynamic allows the Framework to be meaningful to the people implementing it and relevant to those who want to know more about how their food is being raised.”

Consumer-facing retailers and restaurants are active in US-RSPE work and stress the importance and need for greater transparency at the individual and supply chain level.

“We know our customers are increasingly interested in knowing more about their food and where it comes from, which in turn guides our company’s broader commitments on food quality and sourcing,” said Ernie Meier, director of quality for McDonald’s Corporation. “Our work with the US-RSPE not only aligns with our current supply chain standards, but also furthers our work to advance environmentally and socially conscious practices for the animals in our supply chain while allowing us to meet customer expectations.”

In addition to providing individual reports to participants, the US-RSPE will report on the performance of the full supply chains. The Framework includes sustainability measures across 13 priority areas, identified through a rigorous multi-year working group process, with the entire supply chain represented, that are crucial to increasing trust with customers of US chicken, turkey, and eggs.

“I know firsthand how overwhelming it can be to measure your sustainability, and the Framework lifts some of that burden,” said Lankford Ruffin, director of environmental affairs and sustainability for Butterball and current chair of US-RSPE. “By making it a streamlined process, it will fit right in with your other certifications or provide you with the base you need to start building out your program. We want to help you measure where you are with your sustainability program and get you where you want to go.”

There are several sustainability assessment resources available, but the poultry sector needed a reporting structure that tackled the complexities of the full supply chain.

“It’s really exciting to be able to do this work and see all parts of the supply chain, even those that your company doesn’t take part in and may be several steps up or downstream from where you are, come together to create a clear picture of our sustainability,” said Kristin Tupa, sustainability manager at Cargill and chair of the Framework development committee.

Diverse input was gathered to ensure the Framework would be effective and implementable. The multistakeholder structure of US-RSPE members that built the Framework include:

  • Retailers/grocery stores
  • Food service companies
  • Breeders
  • Hatcheries
  • Feed manufacturers
  • Farm operators
  • Processors and further processors
  • Renderers
  • Integrators
  • Non-government organizations
  • Allied industries (animal health providers, equipment manufacturers, etc)

“We believe sustainability success starts with measurement and is improved by investing in work that improves sustainability for our poultry, our planet and its people,” said Bennett. “Now is the time to connect with us and stay tuned for opportunities to take an active role in shaping what our future will look like.”