Smithfield Foods announced this week that it will conduct a comprehensive watershed and water-use analysis across its vertically integrated operations to increase the company's water use efficiencies and ensure sustainable sourcing and practices companywide. As part of the initiative, Smithfield will also adopt internationally recognized water stewardship standards by 2025 to support its long-term water management goals.
The exhaustive water conservation effort will refresh prior water assessments and inform updated strategies related to water usage, quality and supply availability on all company-owned and contract hog farms, in manufacturing facilities and across grain supplier operations beginning with Smithfield's domestic portfolio. Assessments will foster sustainable water use and access to local water sources, inform site-specific performance and conservation targets and reduce the risk of future sourcing issues.
This newest initiative builds upon efforts Smithfield has undertaken over the last decade to reduce water use across its farms and production facilities, which utilize ISO 14001:2015 certified environmental management systems (EMS) to establish water-use reduction targets and assess potential new efficiencies. Additional ongoing efforts to conserve water include strictly regulating the application of nutrients on company and contract hog farms, introducing grain supply chain innovations to protect water from fertilizer runoff and partnering with local water authorities to reduce impacts of groundwater use.
"Responsible stewardship of water and other finite natural resources is an essential component of sustainable food production and critical to our role as an environmentally conscious protein company," said Stewart Leeth, chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. "Because our business operations rely on water to produce food and support animal care, we continually assess our water use and pursue innovations that further conserve resources and implement the best available technologies."
Two-thirds of the company's water use supports cooking and sanitation at its processing facilities. In its agricultural operations, water is critical for Smithfield's animals to drink and for sanitation, cooling and biosecurity.
Smithfield's Water Policy outlines company commitments to proactively address water quality, use and conservation efforts in cooperation with environmental consultants, experts and regulatory agencies across local communities.