The world’s food supply relies on secure and resilient food systems, requisites that were starkly underscored in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smithfield recognizes that our ability to provide protein to a growing world population rests on responsible stewardship of the planet’s finite resources, which includes finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) across our operations.
In 2016, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota's NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, we conducted a life cycle analysis (LCA) to measure our carbon impact across our entire supply chain. The LCA considered the GHGs associated with all areas of our business- scopes 1, 2, and 3 - and showed us where we can make the greatest impact. This analysis helped us establish our industry-leading goal to reduce GHG emissions 25% by 2025, which we have recently broadened to 30% by 2030.
Measuring Our Progress
Using 2010 as our baseline, we have seen an approximate 13% reduction* in GHG emissions across our value chain through year-end 2020. It is important to note that during this time period, the number of hogs processed annually increased by approximately 3.4 million head (largely due to acquisition), and the weight of each hog processed increased as well. Decreasing emissions while increasing production is critical to how we will continue to feed a growing global population while continually shrinking our environmental footprint.
*Percentage based on a narrowing of the various ranges of model runs and assumptions. Due to the complexity of the supply chains associated with our vertically integrated operations, the science and models behind calculating carbon emission reduction is continually changing as additional research and data become available. We acknowledge that different predictive models may provide varying ranges of results and we anticipate further refinements which may inform how we measure and report progress.
Updated Life-Cycle Analysis
In early 2021, we updated our LCA in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s NorthStar Initiative. Early findings from this new LCA affirm our engagement approach and the critical importance of our Smithfield Renewables platform. Through it, we capture methane from manure management systems on hog farms and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG) and electricity. These RNG projects displace at least 25 times more GHG emissions from the atmosphere than are released from the end use of the renewable fuel in power plants, homes, vehicles and businesses. Other efforts under this platform include regenerative agriculture programs; feed efficiency initiatives; renewable electricity purchases; efforts to streamline transportation, manufacturing and facility logistics; zero-waste-to-landfill efforts; reduced/recyclable packaging initiatives; water conservation efforts – and more.
We continue to leverage the resources and expertise of a wide range of partners to accelerate projects and we are on course to eliminate the carbon footprint of our company-owned operations across the United States and aggressively reduce our scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions.
We are also positioned to explore climate-related risks and opportunities across operations to better understand and prioritize actions to mitigate and adapt to drought, flooding or other potential severe weather-related events.
Measuring Our GHG Footprint