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US broiler industry’s carbon footprint is declining, says NCC report

The National Chicken Council has published its inaugural Sustainability Report, and finds that the US broiler industry’s carbon footprint has declined 18% for every kilogram of bird produced from 2010 to 2020.

21 September 2021, at 8:08am

The National Chicken Council (NCC) report provides a comprehensive overview of US chickens raised for meat, known as “broilers,” and the industry’s collective progress in its environmental, broiler welfare and social impact journey, as well as efforts to build a more sustainable food system.

The 2020 US Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report was submitted to the Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit to be held 23 September in New York City. Guided and inspired by the call to action in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report is also intended to complement the important work being done by the US Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs, which is developing a framework for collecting data to further innovation, drive improvements and support communication about the measured and verified sustainability of US chicken.

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Six essential industry topics are addressed in NCC’s report, including: air, land and water; broiler health and welfare; employee safety and well-being; food and consumer safety; community support; and food security. The report features new broiler life cycle assessment (LCA) data commissioned by NCC. The Broiler Production System Life Cycle Assessment: 2020 Update reveals the broiler industry achieved significant improvements in key sustainability intensity metrics (environmental footprint per kilogram of bird) between 2010 and 2020:

  • Land use: down 13%
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon footprint): down 18%
  • Water consumption: down 13%
  • Fossil resources use: down 22%
  • Particulate forming emissions: down 22%

The report also features the US chicken industry’s collective accomplishments, including:

  • Decreasing broiler chicken on-farm mortality rates by 72% since 1925.
  • Defining the essential elements of broiler chicken care with NCC’s Welfare Guidelines.
  • Donating more than $133 million and 20 million meals to local communities at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
  • Bolstering global food security with broiler exports totaling 7.4 billion pounds in 2020.
  • Providing Americans and people across the world – throughout all life stages – with affordable, nutritious protein.
  • Achieving an 86% decline in Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable injuries and illnesses in the poultry processing sector over the past 25 years.

“We take pride in how our chicken gets from farm to table, but we know that sustainability is a journey of collective successes and growth areas. It’s on us as an industry to review our impact and areas of improvement so that we can direct our industry toward a more sustainable future,” said Brown. “We invite all consumers to learn how the US chicken industry is producing safe, nutritious and sustainable food. This new report is one resource to help shed light on the sustainable practices behind the food on their table.”

View the 2020 US Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report here. For a snapshot of key report data, download this infographic.