Mitigating deforestation: Tyson Foods collaborates with Proforest to conduct palm and soy risk assessment
31 Oct 2019 --- Tyson Foods is conducting a deforestation risk assessment across its global sourcing origins, focusing on key commodities including palm oil andsoy. The assessment is conducted in partnership with Proforest, an independent organization active in the implementation of responsible sourcing practices. This initiative is expected to inform and spur actionto mitigate or eliminate any identified deforestation risks.
“Agricultural commodity buyers and users are faced with a series of interrelated social and environmental challenges. For commodities such as palm, soy, beef and fiber, these primarily concern deforestation and land use change – major drivers of global greenhouse gas emissions – and the social issues that are often bound up in their production,” Rob Bailes, Deputy Director of Responsible Sourcing at Proforest tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
In 2017, Tyson Foods partnered with an environmentally focused non-government organization to conduct a sustainable sourcing risk assessment, which classified the company’s deforestation risk as minimal to low. Since then, the company has expanded its international presence from two countries to nine, with the acquisition of Keystone Foods and additional poultry businesses in Thailand and Europe.
Given the company’s expanded footprint, the supply chain will be reassessed to identify and classify potential risks. Findings will inform the development of a Tyson Foods Forest Protection Policy in 2020.
“We’re committed to sustainably feeding the world. As part of that, we must operate with a high degree of certainty about sourcing in our supply chains across the globe,” says John R. Tyson, Chief Sustainability Officer for Tyson Foods.
Open access traceability
Under the initiative, Proforest will partner with Global Canopy, an international environmental NGO, and utilize Trase, a publicly available supply chain mapping platform developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute and Global Canopy.
Trase seeks to improve the understanding of agricultural commodity supply chains by increasing transparency, revealing the links to environmental and social risks in tropical forest regions, and creating opportunities to improve the sustainability of how these commodities are produced, traded and consumed.
The online platform utilizes publicly available data to map the links between consumer countries via trading companies to the places of production in unprecedented detail. Trase can show how commodity exports are linked to agricultural conditions – including specific environmental and social risks – in the places where they are produced, allowing companies, governments and others to understand the risks and identify opportunities for more sustainable production.
Trase provides data at scale, free-of-charge, comprehensively mapping supply chains for key commodities from entire countries and regions. By 2021, Trase aims to map the trade of over 70 percent of total production in major forest risk commodities, catalysing a transformation in supply chain sustainability.
Fostering global transparency
In addition to the partnership with Proforest, Tyson Foods recently became a member of the civil organization Round Table On Responsible Soy (RTRS), which promotes responsible production, processing and trading of soy. The company is also a member of the Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a civil organization that works with stakeholders from across the palm oil industry to develop global standards to define and certify sustainable palm oil.
Earlier this year, Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, joined forces with IdentiGEN to use DNA technology to trace beef back to the individual animal of origin. The DNA TraceBack system is a tool to trace the cattle raised for Tyson’s Open Prairie Natural Angus Beef, proving exactly where the premium cuts of beef are sourced from. This boost in traceability comes amid rising consumer demands for food transparency. While the technology is only being used for beef initially, the company is also exploring the use of DNA technology in other parts of its meat business.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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