Committed to our Natural Resources
You could say our environmental responsibility started with the understanding of reuse and recycle, a lesson Frank Perdue learned from his father and founder of Perdue Farms Arthur Perdue. Arthur Perdue was known for saving the leather from his old shoes to make hinges for chicken house doors. So, reusing and recycling are nothing new for Perdue! That understanding of the importance of being frugal and maximizing the available life of all resources has evolved into one of our company’s core values: stewardship.
For us, stewardship is protecting the environment, ensuring the well-being of our associates, providing for the welfare of the animals in our care, living up to our civic responsibilities and generating earnings for the future of our company. It’s the real driver for our efforts. Through our environmental stewardship scorecard, we have established aggressive goals for reductions in greenhouses gases, water use and solid waste by 2022 and are committed to reporting our progress.
Here are some of our stewardship successes that move us toward fulfilling our Vision: “To be the most trusted name in food and agriculture products” as we navigate into our second century.
We will continue to work toward, and report progress on, our environmental goals. Because, we truly believe in responsible food and agriculture.
Learn how a new partnership with GreenGasUSA in Lewiston, N.C., is furthering our carbon-reduction goals.
We recognize that our consumers, customers and communities expect us to be responsible stewards of our shared natural resources. We also recognize that producing more with less is not the full measure of sustainability, and that we need to take a holistic approach that overlaps with our commitments to food safety and quality, animal welfare, associate well-being, consumer preferences, community concerns and supporting family farms.
In pursuit of our vision “to be the most trusted name in food and agricultural
products®,” we know we must go beyond compliance to actively address the full range of environmental stewardship challenges related to animal agriculture and food production. We know that environmental stewardship includes partnering with and supporting efforts and organizations that bring stakeholders together to protect our natural resources.
We count stewardship among our core company values and incorporate environmental sustainability into our company goals, which the senior leadership team and
Being a good steward of the environment has always been a priority at Perdue Farms and is an important component of our company’s stewardship value.
In 2018, we announced aggressive and transparent five-year goals to significantly accelerate our progress to reduce greenhouse gases, water use and solid waste going to landfill by 2023. We knew reaching our goals would require hard work, innovation, partnerships, and continuous improvement.
We committed to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 30 percent, water usage intensity by 25 percent, and decrease our solid waste to landfills by 90 percent.
While we did not surpass all our goals, we have made meaningful progress.
As we progress along this journey to minimize our environmental impact, we remain committed to reporting on our progress. Along the way, we will also announce additional goals as our sustainability efforts expand deeper into our operations and supply chain.
In late 2022, GreenGasUSA, a provider of high- quality renewable energy solutions, completed installation of equipment at Perdue’s operations in Lewiston, N.C. to capture the methane from the operation’s onsite wastewater treatment facility and convert it to renewable natural gas (RNG).
Through GreenGas’ partnership with large food producers, industrial, and manufacturing companies all across the United States, the pipeline-grade RNG is transported from Perdue’s Lewiston operation to a GreenGas RNG pipeline interconnection hub, where it is injected into existing pipelines and made available to their customers.
In the first two months of this project, which is part of our commitment to further reduce our companywide carbon emissions, more than 10,500 metric tons of CO2e were captured and converted to RNG – the GHG equivalent of eliminating 1,181,500 gallons of gasoline being consumed.
“The Lewiston project has been a huge success for RNG development in the agriculture and food processing space, and a wonderful partnership with Perdue. We are excited to help accelerate Perdue’s sustainability journey by reducing emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and condition it to a valuable renewable fuel for end-users. The people, integrity, and collaboration at Perdue made this project the success that we are celebrating today,” said CEO and Founder of GreenGasUSA, Marc Fetten.
“Through this high-impact initiative in North Carolina, we’ve initially reduced Perdue’s companywide carbon emissions by 17 percent, and expect that number to grow considerably over time,” said Drew Getty, Perdue Farms vice president of environmental sustainability and government relations. “Working with like-minded partners like GreenGas, we’re able to accelerate our environmental efforts and continue reducing the impact of our operations.”
While farmers provide nourishment for billions of people, agriculture accounts for nearly one-quarter of all worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (according to the IPCC).¹ Acknowledging that the solution to this global problem is too large for any one company, industry, or entity to solve, Bayer and Perdue collaborated as industry leaders and innovators to help pave the way for a more sustainable ag future.
By creating additional opportunities for farmers to be an integral part of a more sustainable food value chain, Perdue grain farmers may be compensated for participating in a carbon footprinting program and eligible for future incentives tied to adopting regenerative farming practices, along with receiving access to all the benefits of Bayer’s ForGround platform.
Initially focused on farmers who supply Perdue with corn or soybeans, Perdue AgriBusiness launched a pilot program to first understand their carbon footprint and then identify the best path to lower the GHG intensity of the grains the farmers produce through the adoption of regenerative farming practices.
Based on the broad scale of Perdue’s commodity sourcing network, the collaboration has the potential to take over one million metric tons of CO2e a year out of the atmosphere and sequester it in the ground. If achieved, this would counter-balance the GHG emissions from over one billion pounds of chicken, or the equivalent of approximately 200,000 vehicle emissions.
“By taking concrete steps to decarbonize our supply chain, this collaboration with Bayer is an example of Perdue’s continued commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Perry Aulie, Senior Vice President of Value-Added Products for Perdue AgriBusiness. “We’re constantly seeking additional avenues for our farmers to get credit for their hard work, and this new program offers opportunity for both incentive and impact for these important stewards of the land.”
Illustrating a shared commitment to improve the value and sustainability of food production, Perdue AgriBusiness and ZeaKal announced a multi- year development agreement to raise more sustainable poultry through improved soy genetics and feed quality.
ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed® trait technology increases photosynthetic capacity, converting more carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy for the plant. In soybeans, the main protein source in poultry feed, this has consistently resulted in improved oil and protein content while improving the sustainability index of the crop.
“As we evaluated our supply chain, it became clear that moving upstream to access better seed genetics could improve value and sustainability in ways other solutions simply could not. As PhotoSeed soy develops, we expect it will be transformative for Perdue across soy processing and specialty oils, while improving the quality of feed,” said Perry Aulie, senior vice president of Value-Added Products for Perdue AgriBusiness. “Together with our farmers, we are working toward delivering better carbon capture and overall nutritional composition using the power of the sun.”
Better, more sustainable poultry begins with better seed genetics. Based on year-over-year results, this novel trait technology continues to uniquely demonstrate improved seed composition without compromising yield. During the 2021 growing season, leading PhotoSeed soybean events increased oil composition by 12% while increasing protein by one point.
“Feed and nutritional density play a key role in overall animal health and productivity, starting with adequate protein,” said Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president of Technical Services and Innovation for Perdue Farms. “I am excited about how this project aligns with our commitment of using the highest quality feed ingredients to produce the highest quality, best-tasting chickens while doing good for our planet.”
As a leading poultry producer and soybean processor, Perdue handles approximately 3 million acres’ worth of soybeans per year. Transforming this acreage to PhotoSeed soy means growers will benefit from a higher-value crop and Perdue ensures access to beans with improved oil and higher protein in the resulting meal, all while reducing our environmental footprint.
Perdue’s turkey facility in Washington, Ind. earned the GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill certification, making it the first U.S. turkey processing facility and third Perdue facility to earn this important third-party environmental validation. During the audit period between May 2021-April 2022, GreenCircle validated that the Indiana operation diverted 100 percent of its waste from going to landfills starting in January of 2022, and kept nearly 155 million pounds from landfills during the total audit period.
GreenCircle completed extensive audits and assessments of all waste streams at the facility, including hazardous and non-hazardous materials, inspection of all waste receptacles, and assessment of all third-party waste management companies to confirm management methods and diversion rates. Every aspect of the operations’ waste was assessed, including the personal protective equipment worn by associates, the process used to minimize contamination of the cardboard recycling stream, and the beneficial reuse of cardboard, paper, and feathers, as a few examples.
Perdue’s Lewiston, N.C. facility became the first U.S. poultry company to earn GreenCircle certification in 2020, and its Petaluma, Calif. operation earned the certification in 2021.
“Perdue’s pursuit of their waste diversion goals demonstrates that transparency and continuous improvement are essential to the way they do business,” said Michelle Bonanno, director of operations at GreenCircle. “Our Zero Waste to Landfill certification requires absolute commitment to waste diversion and waste minimization. In order to earn our certification, companies must divert 100 percent of their waste from landfill. The goal of our certification is to help companies understand the reality of their waste minimization and zero waste programs. That information enables them to minimize waste, manage materials to reduce their environmental impact, and achieve their environmental stewardship goals.”
The National Audubon Society has certiﬁed all 21 family ranches in the Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats® network – spanning 690,902 acres of grassland habitat – as bird-friendly, resulting in the largest market-based conservation partnership in the country. The collective of ranches initiated large-scale habitat improvements for birds and other wildlife by enrolling in Audubon’s Conservation Ranching initiative. With the certiﬁcation, beef products from Panorama Organic will carry the Audubon Certiﬁed seal, a package designation for consumers that identiﬁes a product’s origin from lands managed for birds and biodiversity.
Panorama Organic beef products featuring the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal are available nationwide at 90 retail locations in nine states – as well as online at Crowd Cow and Perdue Farms.
“Grasslands, the most threatened ecosystem in the U.S., and grassland birds need our help,” said Kay Cornelius, General Manager of Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats. “Partnering with Audubon, our ranchers are doing the hard work of improving and restoring wildlife habitat. The Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal carries this grassland connection right to your local grocer for the easy part – where shoppers can now positively impact conservation with their purchases.”
Each Panorama Organic network ranch now has a working habitat management plan, one designed to employ cattle beyond beef production and into rotational and regenerative grazing practices that create a mosaic of habitat for grassland birds, including flagship species such as the Northern Bobwhite, Western Meadowlark, and Sage Grouse. The habitat efforts are helping Audubon Conservation Ranching on its road to stabilizing declining grassland bird populations across the U.S., which have declined by more than half since 1970, primarily due to habitat loss and habitat degradation.
“Once upon a time, the idea of ranchers and a group like Audubon working together would have been anathema,” said Marshall Johnson, Chief Conservation Officer for Audubon. “But our shared common goal starts from the ground up – abundant and healthy grasslands – and runs as deep as any prairie root.” In addition to sending consumers a grassland conservation message via the food chain, Johnson says the unique Conservation Ranching program is preventing the conversion of grasslands into other agricultural or developed uses – scenarios that result in significant losses of sequestered carbon. “Keeping grass firmly planted in the ground is a vital natural climate solution, for birds and people.”
The farmers who raise our poultry retain ownership of their litter because it is a resource that has value to them. For farmers whose crops need the nutrients in poultry litter, it can offset the costs of chemical fertilizers while improving soil quality. For those who cannot or do not want to use their litter, it is an agricultural commodity that can be sold to generate additional farm income or bartered.
Since poultry houses are enclosed and there is no liquid waste, there is no manure discharge from poultry houses. The small amount of manure deposited outside the house on free-range farms helps to support the vegetation in the pasture area.
We require all of our poultry farmers to have a nutrient-management plan for the poultry operation. In addition, state regulations, such as the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) in Maryland, further regulate the movement and placement of poultry litter and fertilizers. Litter, like any other fertilizer, is used by farmers in accordance with nutrient-management plans that match fertilizer application to the needs of each crop, minimizing the potential for nutrient runoff.
While poultry farmers are responsible for making sure litter from their farms goes to an approved use, crop farming and poultry production are two separate activities.