Poultry and feed event attracts industry leaders

Looking ahead to the world’s networking hub for the poultry and egg industry, early in 2010 in America THE 2009 INTERNATIONAL Poultry Expo/Feed Expo attracted more than 18,000 industry leaders from throughout the United States and around the world.

Sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPoultry) and the American Feed Industry Association, it is the world's largest poultry and feed event. The main attraction was the huge exhibit floor where 888 exhibiting companies displayed the latest equipment, supplies, and services used in the production and processing of poultry, eggs, and feed. All segments of the industry were represented, from live production and processing to further processing and packaging. Many firms take advantage of the annual gathering to introduce their new products.

"We are very pleased with this year's Expo," said newly elected USPoultry chairman Monty Henderson, George's, Inc., Springdale, AR. "We are particularly gratified with the number of attendees and exhibitors, in light of the current economic conditions. And we saw enthusiastic participation in the education programmes and other activities during the show," he added. In addition to the exhibits, the education programmes keep industry management up to date on current issues and concerns. A unique Animal Agriculture Environmental Sustainability Summit focused on the challenges and solutions of environmental stewardship. One of the summit highlights was Bob Langert, McDonald's Corporation, discussing his firm's sustainability efforts in the restaurant industry. The USPoultry education programme featured Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms, who gave the Industry Outlook: An Executive Management Perspective. A special Market Intelligence Forum examined economic conditions in the poultry industry today and looked ahead to what 2009 will bring. Mike Donohue, Agri-Stats, discussed Poultry Production - Are High Feed Prices Driving us to Ruin?; Tom Elam, FarmEcon, covered Low Profitability - Can We Blame it on Ethanol?; and Dr. Paul Aho, Poultry Perspective, reviewed International Market - What Does the Future Hold for the Poultry Industry? Focus on environmental sustainability The McDonald's Corp. has been involved in environmental and sustainability projects for more than 20 years and regards these programmes as a fundamental business strategy as well as a way of making a difference in the world, according to Bob Langert, the company's vice president of corporate social responsibility. He was speaking at the Animal Agriculture Environmental Sustainability Summit during the 2009 International Poultry Expo/Feed Expo, sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and the American Feed Industry Association.

"First and foremost it's a business imperative. We need to have enough products at the right time and the right place in the McDonald's system," Langert said. A sustainability programme helps ensure that the vast quantities of supplies needed in the company's global chain are safely and readily available. Langert also said that sustainability programmes are important because they help meet consumers' expectations that brands be socially responsible. McDonald's was one of the first major companies to team up with a large environmental group, the Environmental Defense Fund, in an effort to reduce waste in restaurants. Working with groups that some might consider hostile is essential in developing comprehensive sustainability strategies. "Together, collaboratively, and in a positive spirit with our suppliers, with a nongovernmental organisation that wasn't out to get us out of business but to make us more responsible, we initiated 42 projects to reduce, re-use, and recycle. By the time the 90s ended we reduced 300mn pounds of packaging in the McDonald's system," he said.

"The lesson learned here is that you don't have to be afraid of working with these outside groups. You could benefit through credibility, through scientific work, and through collaboration." Langert emphasised that such partnerships, as well as internal sustainability efforts, should be conducted proactively rather than in a crisis mode that can lead to short-sighted decisions. He noted that McDonald's began working with an animal welfare expert a decade ago, and the animal welfare system that began as a laboratory model is now in place globally throughout their system. A similar collaboration with their suppliers and conservation experts resulted in an environmental scorecard. A highly visible brand such as McDonald's is inevitably a lightning rod for public frustration on a multitude of issues, having been tagged as a symbol of a disposable society, rainforest destruction, obesity and poor nutrition, and globalisation, Langert said. Companies need to define strategies that will enable them to respond to issue-oriented groups from a position of strength.

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