This post is sponsored by Tyson Fresh Meats.
US consumers are turning an increasingly critical eye on product labels in the grocery store. Transparency is especially important when shopping in the meat case, with animal welfare, food safety and sustainability concerns at the top of shoppers’ lists. With this in mind, Tyson Fresh Meats partnered with the Progressive Beef program to raise the standards of beef production across the industry and give consumers the ability to learn the beef cattle production sustainability and animal welfare story. In this interview, Tyson Fresh Meats’ Senior VP, Beef Enterprise, Shane Miller, discusses the partnership and how increased transparency can boost consumer confidence.
Why did Tyson Fresh Meats decide to partner with the Progressive Beef program?
Now more than ever, consumers are demanding to know more about the beef they’re buying, both where it comes from and how the cattle are raised. Our core values call on us to be good stewards, so we’re continuously looking at new ways to increase accountability and transparency throughout our supply chain. In 2018, we were proud to become the first beef processor to license the Progressive Beef program to purchase beef raised with a focus on cattle care, food safety and sustainability. This partnership allows Tyson Fresh Meats to work with our customers to fulfill a need for a beef program that creates a higher confidence level for consumers.
Since licensing the program, how has Tyson Fresh Meats worked with Progressive Beef to improve animal welfare, sustainability and commitment to food safety across the beef industry?
The Progressive Beef program helps heighten accountability and transparency by covering all aspects of day-to-day cattle care. The feedyards certified in the program focus efforts in three areas: cattle care, food safety and sustainability, and are verified twice per year by USDA-approved auditors. The partnership with Progressive Beef allows Tyson Fresh Meats to connect more closely with our suppliers to ensure all process control and safety procedures are in place. The program also considers animal care considerations such as comfortable living conditions, nutritious food and clean water. Finally, it examines sustainability benchmarks including efficient use of natural resources, employee safety rates and responsible antibiotic use.
We consider Progressive Beef to be the gold standard for cattle management practices, and we have seen firsthand the benefits of implementing these verifiable best practices that will continue to improve beef production. We welcome others in the beef business to join us so we can all confidently answer questions from the people who buy our products about how their beef is raised.
How does this program differ from Beef Quality Assurance?
Progressive Beef is built upon the Beef Quality Assurance foundation. All Progressive Beef members are also BQA certified. Both programs aim to demonstrate a commitment to food safety and quality while increasing consumer confidence in beef products. Progressive Beef goes even further, adding rigorous cattle management and sustainability requirements for feedlot operators. In order to receive the Progressive Beef certification, feedyards must train operators on critical areas including cattle care, water usage and energy usage. Receiving certification is a stringent process that can take several months. All Progressive Beef-certified feedyards must also adhere to a strict code of standard operating procedures and are verified annually by USDA-approved auditors. To date, more than two million cattle have been certified through the program and by the end of the year over three million cattle will be cared for at certified.
How does the transparency offered through the Progressive Beef program help retailers better communicate with customers and sell more beef?
The Progressive Beef program helps bring transparency and accountability to the beef production process. Consumers want more information about how cattle are raised, and often feel like the industry isn’t keeping up with their demand for more information. The Progressive Beef certification provides proven practices so that consumers know the beef they buy is from cattle that were well cared for, in a safe and sustainable environment. Progressive Beef is the largest cattle management and sustainability program for feedlot operators, and we believe industry-wide adoption would help all of us to validate consumer confidence in the beef industry, from the very beginning all the way to the center of the plate.
The Progressive Beef + Tyson Fresh Meats program can help retailers grow sales and differentiate their offerings from the competition. Learn more.
Shane Miller is SVP & GM Beef Enterprise of Tyson Fresh Meats, the nation’s largest beef processor. He is responsible for overseeing the company’s entire beef enterprise, including livestock procurement, pricing, beef operations, specialty products, and hides and tanneries.
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