Progressing Toward Sustainability Goals, Even In Uncertain Times
May 7, 2020
As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing pandemic, global attention has, rightfully, been concentrated on the most pressing concerns of the moment: combatting the new coronavirus, protecting essential workers and securing supply chains. OSI has likewise prioritized the most urgent issues, taking a range of proactive steps to address the needs of its workers, customers and company.
Nevertheless, even as OSI adapts, in the short term, to the new normal, the company remains committed to its longer-term goals and commitments to sustainability. Behind the scenes, its employees — from senior leadership to farmers and factory workers around the world — continue to work toward its vision of leading the industry in Sustainable Supply and Procurement, Environmental Stewardship and Social Responsibility.
The particular challenges of the moment have called for ramped up action around one of its main sustainability priorities: Social Responsibility. The company has snapped into action to protect its family of workers and provide safe, quality food and care for the communities it serves.
However, as a testament to its long term vision, the company also continues to push ahead, in areas like animal welfare, one of the core issues in its sustainability mission.
As Chief Sustainability Officer Nicole Johnson-Hoffman noted in OSI’s latest sustainability report, “making commitments to sustainability shows that we plan to be around and competitive long into the future.”
ANIMAL WELFARE: ‘IT’S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO BE A PART OF’
One of the best examples of this is taking place on OSI-linked farms in Australia, where poultry farmers remain focused on a broad array of animal welfare goals. Turosi, an OSI joint venture company and one of the largest poultry processors in Australia, has been working to improve animal nutrition and general welfare for nearly a decade.
“We’ve always had a high focus on animal welfare in Australia,” said Joel Kopanica, Turosi’s General Manager of Agriculture. “It’s something we have to be part of to meet customer requirements, and certainly our goal is to push that animal welfare and sustainability approach further than our competitors.”
To that end, Turosi farms began using a new monitoring app last year that has been providing the company with real-time data about the health of its flocks. The app is loaded onto the phones or tablets of veterinarians and technical staff, who can then run through a series of prompts that helps them assess, step-by-step, everything from a bird’s respiratory function to its immune system.
“Prior to having the app, we used quite crude manual worksheets,” Kopanica said. “We had some challenges—everybody had a different subjective view of health [indicators]. It was hard to trendline where we were and where we were heading. Since introducing the app, we’ve found that all the service people and vets are on the same page.” The app’s detailed pictures and graphics leaves little room for debate, he explained. “It also then provides a trendline and enables real-time analysis.”
Kopanica says that use of the app, along with other recent strategy and feed changes, have improved the health of the flock.
STRIVING TO MEET HIGH ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS
Many of the changes that Turosi farms have implemented in the last five years have been tied to its goal of meeting the high standards set by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a UK animal welfare organization known by its acronym, RSPCA. “It’s been quite a journey,” Kopanica said. To meet the standards on Turosi’s broiler farms, where chickens are raised, the company had to do things like install extensive perching areas and rewire sheds for the purpose of sunrise and sunset simulations. These changes are aimed at enriching the health and well-being of Turosi chickens. By the end of this year — in spite of the challenges of the moment — Turosi broiler farms will be 100 percent RSPCA-aligned, Kopanica predicts.
The changes Turosi has already implemented are in line with OSI’s sustainability goal of ensuring respect for animals in the supply chain and leading in animal welfare practices. OSI has been working towards these goals for the past five years as an integral part of business operations. The fact that it continues to make progress in these areas in spite of the current unexpected challenges means it will be well positioned to further ramp up sustainability work when life around the world returns to normal.
Kopanica says he is optimistic that that time will come soon for Australia, which has fared better than other countries in the crisis. In the meantime, he and others at Turosi are looking forward to continuing Turosi’s sustainability journey at full steam.