Justin Courtney, head of communications and sustainability

The range of food options available to consumers around the world continues to grow. Every food show around the world is promoting new products, or old products marketed in ever more sophisticated ways to highlight their attributes to consumers. The expectations of discerning consumers remain high. They want to feel good about their food choices. We need to demonstrate that we produce our food in a sustainable way.

Silver Fern Farms’ vision is to become the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company. Having a ‘Sustainable Chain of Care’ is fundamental to achieving this vision. Our Sustainable Chain of Care is a programme which has been driving positive change in the business across eight material sustainability issues. A materiality process helped us to define goals and targets to ensure sustainability was an integral part of what we do. These issues include our energy use, the water we use, how we manage wastewater, and waste. Our material issues extend across our high standards of animal welfare, food safety and quality standards, our care for our 7000 staff and the communities in which we operate. It is underpinned by goals for us and our shareholder suppliers to achieve sustained financial performance.

Partnerships have been important to helping us develop our Sustainable Chain of Care programme. Our membership of the Sustainable Business Council, and the Climate Leaders’ Forum have supported a primary sector focus to their wider work, as well as an external peer review and assessment of our progress.

We also support other organisations where their goals align with our strategy and vision. A great example of this includes our support for the Trees for Bees programme which encourages landowners to protect and plant vegetation to enhance year-round food sources for bee colonies to preserve their critical role in biodiversity. Another example is our foundational support of the recently established Meat the Need charity, which is putting food into the hands of those who need it most via foodbanks and charities around the country.

A topic which has been top of mind with customers and consumers domestically and internationally is the global response to climate change. We believe we need to take steps to reduce emissions over time, and our customers and consumers are interest in the actions we are taking to manage and reduce our own carbon footprint.

In conjunction with our partner Toitū Envirocare, 2019 saw Silver Fern Farms become the first red meat processing and marketing company in New Zealand to publicly verify and report our emissions. The CarbonReduce certification meets the globally recognised ISO 14064-1 standard and helps us to show we are committed to measuring, reporting and reducing our emissions.

You can read more about our approach to sustainability at: silverfernfarms.com/our-company/our-sustainable-chain-of-care/.