OSI Group and Nicole Johnson-Hoffman Lead Industry Drive for Beef Sustainability
OSI Group, one of the world's leading food producers, continues to play a leadership role in the global commitment to sustainability within the food industry.
OSI Group is a continuing member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), a worldwide consortium of food producers, politicians, scientists and others committed to developing and encouraging best practices for use around the world. OSI's Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for the company, serves as the Global Roundtable's immediate past president.
"We that work in the beef value chain are privileged to be part of an industry that means so much to this world," said Johnson-Hoffman during an appearance at the 2021 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef. "Our industry feeds people, cares for animals, protects our environment and sustains vibrant communities,"
Johnson-Hoffman has long been one of the industry's most influential voices in sustainability work. In addition to serving as the GRSB's most recent president, Johnson-Hoffman also served as president of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef from 2015 to 2016.
About the Global Roundtable
The GRSB was established in 2012 and today has 500 members in 24 countries. Its mission is to ensure that the beef industry's value chain - producers, processors and stakeholders - adhere to ethical standards and practices at every stage within the worldwide beef industry's supply chain. The GRSB is using scientifically backed approaches to ensure that the cattle that are raised to provide beef be handled safely, treated well, and processed humanely with the highest standards and conformity to globally established guidelines.
That means working closely with the Global Roundtable's members, which include ranchers and farmers, processors and retailers that comprise the supply chain. The GRSB's work also engages regulators, lawmakers and researchers to develop and advocate for laws and regulations that ensure long-term viability for the world's beef food supply.
Focused on Change, Backed by Science
The Global Roundtable has developed a plan to focus on what it sees as the three core areas related to sustainability - animal health and welfare, climate change and land use. The challenges facing the industry were not ones the industry was ready to take on, Johnson-Hoffman said, as recently as five years ago when she served as vice president and president of the organization.
What's changed is scientifically driven information that has been put into practice. With powerful examples to point to, the organization is now able to communicate those improvements to interested parties. Those examples help build the case that not only are sustainability efforts possible, but they also are practical and work.
"Having seen so many examples of the work you have done around the world to drive improvements in beef sustainability and to communicate these improvements to people who want to know about them, we believe this is an idea whose time has come," Johnson-Hoffman said.
Nicole Johnson-Hoffman gave the capstone address at the 2021 conference, where the organization shared its most recent global sustainability goals. For Johnson-Hoffman, the world has to begin addressing these issues immediately.
"We have also run out of time for defending, resisting or bickering with critics of the industry and those who would profit from competing food sources that have successfully convinced large percentages of our stakeholders that beef production is problematic at best, and at worst incapable of being achieved sustainably," Johnson-Hoffman remarked. "We know that is not true, and we have achievements and data to prove it," she said.
Part of Johnson-Hoffman's belief is rooted in the idea that the industry must engage with two groups of opponents. Those who are critical of the industry raise concerns that should be embraced; she encourages those who are critical to join the global group and engage in those conversations.
Opponents - those who are opposed to animal agriculture - also must be engaged, even if they believe the industry should not exist. The industry need not shy away from critics and opponents. Instead, she said, the industry has "to show up and represent the people doing serious work to achieve sustainability outcomes."
The issues of beef sustainability need to be considered carefully, given the various cultural differences, regulatory variances and attitudes toward beef, cattle and the industry. Communities and countries cannot be asked to adhere to standards without allowing for local nuances.
The GRSB, Nicole Johnson-Hoffman believes, is the right organization to lead this work.
"In the 25 years I've spent working in agriculture, I have never found another organization that is able to move forward into constructive, informed and compassionate engagement between agriculture and its stakeholders until the formation of the GRSB," she said.
OSI Group Commitment to Sustainability
OSI Group has made a company-wide commitment to sustainability, including the hiring of Johnson-Hoffman as its first chief sustainability officer.
OSI Group, headquartered in Aurora, Illinois, has more than 65 production facilities and offices in 18 countries. It sells its food products in 77 countries in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
Sustainable supply chains are one of three frameworks in this space, along with social responsibility and environmental stewardship. Each of OSI's three regions has its own sustainability plan, and the company has established ambitious targets for 2025 sustainability goals in areas such as water usage reduction, developing landfill-free facilities, meeting industry sustainability standards, and establishing expectations for worker welfare and training.