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OSI Europe Takes a Crucial Step in Tracking Sustainability Progress in the Beef Industry

November 26, 2020

OSI Europe has introduced a supplier benchmarking system to understand and support the progression of sustainability in its beef supply chain.

The annual benchmark pivots on core sustainability priorities such as animal welfare, workplace and community responsibility, natural resource conservation and overall environmental impact. This will allow OSI Europe to understand how their suppliers are currently engaging with sustainability, identify blind spots, and support suppliers towards more ambitious sustainability targets.

The benchmark criteria has been built around OSI’s 2025 sustainability targets and the outcome targets of the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS).

"In each of our core markets, this benchmark will allow us to track progress towards our sustainability goals. It is also set to influence our long-term relationships with suppliers, with priority given to those that are most sustainable," says Claire Donoghue, OSI's Operations Director and Head of Sustainability.

How to Measure Sustainability

Understanding the sustainability of a meat supplier requires building a comprehensive overview of how they:

· Collaborate with industry groups and leaders in sustainability

· Enhance animal welfare

· Address antibiotic stewardship

· Conserve environmental resources

· Reduce impact on climate

· Are fair to people in the workplace and their community

Measuring sustainability involves assessing suppliers against a set of criteria to highlight any areas that urgently need to be addressed, and to review progress towards the ambitious targets which we must strive for as an industry. The intention is to bring about changes faster than would otherwise be possible, with all beef suppliers on board.

Annual assessments will enable us to identify trends, such as which aspects are improving fastest and which are lagging behind, and will be able to encourage suppliers to increase the pace of change. The assessments will also influence our long-term relationships with suppliers, with priority given to those which are most sustainable, and suppliers low performing suppliers will be omitted, should they fail to show improvement.

Sustainability of Beef Suppliers

Earlier this year, we piloted the benchmark with our suppliers to OSI Food Solutions UK. The data was collected in summer 2020, and has overall been very promising, indicating that the vast majority of suppliers into our Scunthorpe site are engaged in activities to improve sustainability in some or all areas.

Taking the suppliers of the UK Food Solutions site in Scunthorpe as an example, we know:

· 73% are working with the ERBS to support beef sustainability

· 100% have accredited animal welfare training for workers

· 97% have a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target

· 100% are engaging in activities to create a food safety culture

· 83% are engaged with an external health and safety audit or certification scheme

Looking specifically at environmental sustainability, we now know that 93% of suppliers have an external and independent environmental audit or certification, which provides an increased level of trust and assurance in this area. We also know that 97% have set a water reduction target and 80% have set a food waste reduction target, indicating that suppliers are taking multiple factors into account in their approach to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations.

Why Measure Sustainability?

OSI is measuring sustainability to understand the markets we are operating in better and to ensure our suppliers are working towards the betterment of the beef industry, in line with our goals and those of industry working groups like the ERBS.

In 2018, OSI Europe outlined sustainability targets. These include goals for sustainable supply, the environment and social responsibility, all of which are expected to be achieved by 2025. For example, all suppliers are expected to have externally recognised animal welfare training in place for their employees.

As well as benchmarking where suppliers sit in relation to OSI Europe’s sustainability goals, the sustainability benchmarking system also enables us to provide suppliers with recommendations on how to improve their score. Often these compliment the types of changes that retail and foodservice partners are increasingly asking for. For example, following from this year’s sustainability ranking, we have offered feedback to suppliers recommending they:

1. Obtain ISO14001 certification – to indicate that sites are operating in line with international environmental management standards

2. Have external animal welfare CCTV monitoring – this provides an extra layer of assurance that high animal welfare standards are being met

3. Set GHG reduction targets - to drive innovation and increase business resilience

4. Understand the supply chain link to deforestation – as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change

5. Become a member of working groups aligned to the ERBS - to work on common targets and align with the industry for greater impact

Using the sustainability benchmarking system to understand sustainability at the supplier level will be pivotal to ensuring the right recommendations and decisions are being made across Europe, enabling ongoing progress towards achieving sustainability targets by 2025.

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