Meat, Poultry & Dairy

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Current language: English
The Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry produces raw and processed animal products, including meats, eggs and dairy products, for human and animal consumption. Important activities include animal raising, slaughtering, processing and packaging. The industry’s largest entities have international operations, and entities are integrated vertically to varying degrees, depending on the type of animal produced. Large industry operators typically rely on contract or independent farmers to supply animals and may have varying degrees of control over their operations. The industry sells products primarily to the Processed Foods industry and to retail distributors that distribute finished products to key end markets including restaurants, livestock and pet feed consumers, and grocery retailers.

Relevant Issues (10 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Meat, Poultry & Dairy

GHG Emissions
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    The Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry generates significant Scope 1 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from both livestock and energy-intensive industrial processes. GHG emissions contribute to climate change and create additional regulatory compliance costs and risks for meat, poultry and dairy entities because of climate change mitigation policies. The majority of the industry’s emissions stem directly from the animals themselves through the release of methane during enteric fermentation, and from manure storage and processing. The direct emissions from raising and producing livestock represent a significant portion of total GHG emissions released among all sources. Currently, these emissions sources are not regulated widely, which presents uncertainties regarding the future of GHG regulations for the industry. Entities in this industry also use large quantities of fossil fuels to meet energy needs, generating additional direct GHG emissions and increasing exposure to regulatory risks. Future emission regulations could result in additional operating or compliance costs. By implementing new technologies to capture animal emissions and focusing on energy efficiency, entities may mitigate regulatory risk and volatile energy costs while also limiting GHG emissions.
Energy Management
  • Energy Management

    The Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry relies heavily on purchased electricity and fuel as critical inputs for value creation. Entities’ use of electricity and fossil fuels in their operations results in indirect and direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which contribute to environmental impacts, including climate change and pollution. Purchased electricity is a significant operating cost for meat, poultry and dairy entities. Efficient energy usage is essential to maintain a competitive advantage in this industry, as purchased fuels and electricity account for a significant portion of total production costs. Decisions regarding alternative fuels use, renewable energy and on-site electricity generation versus purchasing from the grid can influence both the costs and the reliability of the energy supply.
Water & Wastewater Management
  • Water Management

    The Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry is water-intensive both in raising livestock and industrial processing. Additionally, entities in the industry typically generate wastewater or effluent, from both animal production and processing activities. As water scarcity becomes an issue of growing importance because of population growth, increasing consumption per capita, poor water management and climate change, entities in the industry may face higher operational costs or lost revenues because of water shortages or regulations resulting in production reduction. Entities can manage water-related risks and opportunities through capital investments and assessment of facility locations relative to water scarcity risks, improvements to operational efficiency, and partnerships with regulators and communities on issues related to water access and effluent.
Ecological Impacts
  • Land Use & Ecological Impacts

    Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry operations have diverse ecological impacts, primarily because of significant land-use requirements to raise livestock and the contamination of the air, land and groundwater by animal waste. While the impacts are varied, both traditional and confined animal feeding operations may result in significant ecological impacts. The primary concern from confined animal feeding operations and animal-product processing facilities is the generation of large and concentrated amounts of waste and pollutants. Treating effluent and waste from facilities involves significant costs. Non-confined animal feeding operations require large tracts of pastureland and may result in the physical degradation of land resources. Land use and ecological impacts pose legal and regulatory risks in the form of fines, litigation and difficulties obtaining permits for facility expansions or waste discharges.
Product Quality & Safety
  • Food Safety

    Meat, poultry and dairy products are either sold directly to consumers (for example, milk or eggs) or are processed into a wide variety of foods. Maintaining product quality and safety is crucial because contamination by pathogens, chemicals or spoilage presents serious health risks to humans and animals. Food safety practices and procedures in the industry are often subject to intense scrutiny and oversight, and outbreaks of diseases among livestock may result in increased regulation. Product recalls can harm brand reputation, reduce revenues and lead to costly fines. Recalls can also increase regulatory scrutiny, which may lead to trade restrictions. Obtaining food safety certifications and ensuring suppliers follow food safety guidelines may help entities safeguard against product safety risks and improve consumers’ perceived quality of their products.
Customer Welfare
  • Antibiotic Use in Animal Production

    In livestock production, prevalent use of antibiotics that are also administered to humans may promote the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Although the use of antibiotics in animal feed or water supplies can improve the output of animal production and enhance animal welfare in industrial farm settings, entities in the industry must balance these benefits against the potential public health risks. The use of antibiotics in animal production presents reputational and regulatory risks, both of which can affect long-term profitability through effects on demand and market share for meat, poultry and dairy producers. Depending on the animal species, entities in the industry may have varying degrees of control over, and management approaches to, this issue. Entities may have direct control over the feed and medicine administered by contract suppliers in some instances but may set requirements for suppliers more broadly in others.
Employee Health & Safety
  • Workforce Health & Safety

    The Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry has relatively high injury rates compared with other industries given the prevalence of industrial machinery, chemicals, and a fast-paced, loud working environment. Common acute and chronic industrial hazards include musculoskeletal disorders, exposure to chemicals and pathogens, and traumatic injuries from machines and tools. Worker injuries or deaths may result in low worker morale and productivity, and prohibitive legal, financial and reputational risks to the entity. Regulators may levy fines against entities for worker health and safety standard non-compliance or mandate employee training to reduce preventable accidents. By developing a strong safety culture and reducing employees’ exposure to potentially harmful situations, an entity can safeguard against accidents and proactively improve workforce health and safety.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Animal Care & Welfare

    Entities in the Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry are especially sensitive to changes in the public perception of animal welfare. Entities perceived to be causing unnecessary cruelty to animals may face increased risk of fines, damage to brand reputation and regulatory restrictions, such as mandated factory closures. Pressure from consumers and advocacy groups can drive shifts in industry practices such as reducing the use of small enclosures. Entities that anticipate or adapt to these trends effectively may increase market share by capturing new markets as they emerge, or by being the first to comply with new regulations.
Supply Chain Management
  • Environmental & Social Impacts of Animal Supply Chain

    Entities in the Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry rely on a variety of contract farmers and suppliers. Environmental and social impacts within the industry’s supply chain include those related to deforestation, land use and waste management, water withdrawals, animal welfare, antibiotic usage and food safety. An entity’s management of environmental and social risks relating to its animal supply chain is critical to secure a steady source of animals at desired price points and prevent reputational damage, all of which may decrease revenue and market share.
Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
  • Animal & Feed Sourcing

    Meat, poultry and dairy entities source animal and animal feed from a range of suppliers depending on animal species. The industry’s ability to reliably source animals and animal feed at desired price points may be affected by climate change, water scarcity, land management and other resource scarcity considerations. Entities that select and work with suppliers who are less resource-intensive and who actively manage adaptation to climate change and other resource scarcity risks, may reduce price volatility and supply disruptions. Additionally, such entities may improve their brand reputation and develop new market opportunities. Failure to effectively manage sourcing risks may result in higher costs of capital, reduced margins and constrained revenue growth.

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