When it comes to marketing and publicizing the good things food companies do, especially among meat and poultry processors, the tendency is to only look at outward efforts of the company and its employees. Not to diminish the validity of donations of time, food and money to assist people in need, but customers of processors and consumers are demanding to know that they are also doing the right thing behind the scenes and up and down the food-supply chain.
The impact of food production is becoming more than watercooler conversation among many consumers. Recently, agenda-motivated movie makers in Hollywood have done their part to fuel skepticism.
Thankfully, the food industry is doing its part to accentuate environmentally focused practices and promoting its commitment to sustainability. But the pundits have a considerable head start. I’m encouraged to see sustainability emerging as the topic of presentations and educational forums at trade events where food processors are gathering and exchanging ideas and information. This past January, for example the Grocery Manufacturers Association held its first sustainability-focused conference to educate producers of food, beverage and consumer products on the advantages and challenges of developing "green" business strategies. Sustainability was also the topic of a standing-room-only educational session at this year’s International Poultry Expo. In late January, a coalition of food industry trade groups led by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association held a two-day Animal Agriculture Environmental Sustainability Summit to focus on implications of the initiative for the entire food chain. The event was well received and the second annual event is already being planned. This past month, the Food Marketing Institute announced its Food Industry Sustainability Summit Aug. 17-19, where representatives from more than 100 food firms are registered.
Not to be excluded or overshadowed, the American Meat Institute and MEAT&POULTRY are collaborating to present the Sustainability Summit Oct. 28-30 as part of the 2009 Worldwide Food Expo in Chicago. Kicking off with a keynote address from Greenbiz.com’s Joel Makower, the three morning event will be comprised of a series of presentations focused on processor-specific issues, opportunities and challenges from the industry’s leading companies. Findings of new research to gauge the perception of sustainability among AMI members and their customers will also be revealed as part of the program. Additionally, a "Lean and Green" mini-workshop will be offered on the final day of the summit, presented by MEAT&POULTRY contributing editor and Lean manufacturing expert, Dr. Glen Miller. Attendance to the Sustainability Summit is included in the registration fee for attendees. MEAT&POULTRY is proud to serve as the media host and sponsor for this important part of the 2009 WWFE. This is the perfect forum to exchange ideas on what AMI members and meeting planners have identified as a hot-button issue today and especially in the future. For more information on this event, go towww.worldwidefood.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. I look forward to seeing you in October.