2018 Sustainability Report


Justin Whitmore

Justin Whitmore quote

Justin Whitmore, EVP, Alternative Proteins and CSO, shares his thoughts on some of the challenges Tyson Foods addressed in FY2018 and the opportunities that lie ahead.


Q. Tyson’s sustainability report has an expansive scope and includes many activities and initiatives that occurred in 2018. What are the most important accomplishments you would highlight for readers?

A. We have teams leading many remarkable initiatives, and we are proud of the progress we’ve made this year. While we would encourage you to read the entire report, we will highlight four accomplishments.

• We worked with World Resources Institute to set an ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030 across our value chain. Our target was accepted by the Science Based Targets initiative, making us the first U.S. protein company in the food and beverage sector to receive such approval.

• We are piloting a land stewardship program with Environmental Defense Fund that, if successful, will lead to a change in our ability to monitor and transform key environmental measures. We are partnering with farmers to scale practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality and maximize farmer profitability. We are measuring the results at the field level using cloud-based technology from MyFarms and Farmers Business Network. Our initial pilot is focused on 500,000 acres of corn and our plan is to expand to two million acres by 2020.

• Our award-winning Upward Academy educational program provides team members with important life skills, offering free classes in English as a Second Language, General Educational Development, citizenship and functional literacy. The program is currently running in 33 of our plant locations, and we plan to launch in 24 more locations in the coming year.

• We’ve become the first food company to license Progressive Beef, the largest-ever cattle sustainability program verified through USDA approved auditors. The program certifies that cattle feedlot operators are following best practices for animal welfare, food safety, responsible antibiotic use and environmental sustainability.

Q. You’ve been CSO for almost two years now. Where is Tyson Foods in its sustainability journey?

A. Two things have become clear in the last two years.

First, Tyson Foods is uniquely positioned to help sustainably feed people around the world.  Second, we are investing with purpose to tackle some of the biggest challenges in food in new and exciting ways.

We’ve launched industry shaping environmental, animal welfare, and social impact initiatives, made public commitments with transparent reporting, and formed new partnerships to accelerate our progress in creating a more sustainable food system.

Tyson Foods is at a truly exciting point in its sustainability journey with so much more to come.

Q. Why are partnerships so important to Tyson Foods’ sustainability strategy?

A. We have an important responsibility to sustainably feed the world. This responsibility calls on our company to constantly think about how to reshape elements of the global food system and to lead change. However, the challenges we face are massively complex, and include multiple stakeholders including farmers, consumers, retailers, distributors, food processors, scientists, trade associations, regulators and non-government organizations. We can only be successful by bringing together this extensive network of partners and focusing on a shared mission.

Our 2018 Sustainability Report highlights how we are “Sustaining our World, Together.” Through partnership and collaboration with the World Resources Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, Farmers Business Network, My Farms, Oxfam America, United Food and Commercial Workers Union and many others, we are working together to create safe, nutritious and affordable foods that are better for people and the planet.

Q. Tyson Foods recently joined the UN Global Compact. What does this mean and why is it important?

A. We are thrilled to join the UN Global Compact and be part of a global community of like-minded companies working to do good. By joining the Compact, we commit to upholding principles that support human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.

In addition, we are committing to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a set of 17 goals focused on addressing global challenges such as ending hunger, ensuring quality education and providing clean water and sanitation. You’ll see us reference how our initiatives align with the SDG’s throughout this report. The SDGs are ambitious, but we’re up to the challenge and will be transparent about the progress we’re making along the way.

Q. What are Tyson’s biggest opportunities in 2019?

A. Three things stand out for 2019.

First, we will focus on delivering against the commitments we’ve made thus far. We’ve been bold and progress won’t happen overnight. Creating the environment for our teams and partners to succeed will be key.

Second, we will build out the next phase of initiatives which will focus on topics like renewable energy, sustainable packaging, and waste reduction.

Finally, with our expanding global footprint in Asia and Europe, we will work to ensure that our international locations are tightly linked to our domestic sustainability efforts.