- STRENGTH OF BRAND AND ASSORTMENT: As the world's largest pork producer and processor, Smithfield Foods' portfolio of brands is unrivaled in the pork industry.
- TYING INTO CONSUMER TRENDS: The company has continued to address environmental and animal-welfare concerns specific to large animal agriculture operations. This year, Smithfield appointed its first chief sustainability officer.
SMITHFIELD FOODS knows how to start the year off right. After suffering through a difficult two-year stretch in which soaring input-costs and shrill headlines about a pending swine flu pandemic made life miserable for most U.S. pork producers, Smithfield Foods enjoyed a record first quarter for fiscal 2011.
“The trends and the fundamentals in this business are very good at this point,” Smithfield Foods President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Pope said during an earnings call last month. “All sides of the business are very profitable.”
This marks the third year in a row that Smithfield Foods has earned top honors for Category Excellence in pork — hardly a surprising development for the world's largest pork producer and processor. With a portfolio that includes Smithfield, Cooks, Farmland Foods and Armour-Eckrich, among others, they're difficult to overlook.
And, when a company of Smithfield's size and influence begins making changes to its production facilities and processes, it creates ripples throughout the industry. Smithfield Foods has continued to renovate its farms, and has restarted a program that will eliminate the use of gestation crates at the company's facilities.
This year Smithfield also appointed Dennis H. Treacy as the company's first chief sustainability officer.
“Our business has become much more complex as we confront increasing government regulation and rising public and customer awareness of corporate social responsibility practices and sustainability,” Pope said in an announcement. “We understand that our long-term success directly correlates with our ability to effectively address these factors and that these programs must be managed from a senior level within our organization. The appointment of Mr. Treacy to this new role demonstrates our continuing commitment to operate our company in a socially responsible and sustainable way.”
The company has an ongoing plan to reduce its energy and water use and solid waste production by 10% by fiscal 2016, provide the needy with 1 million servings of food per year.
“When I joined Smithfield Foods almost a decade ago, the company was aiming to improve its performance [in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility],” said Treacy. “Over the years, we have transformed ourselves into a company that is leading our industry in many areas, including environmental performance, animal well-being, and the health and safety of our employees. We understand that managing CSR is integral to producing good business results and essential to maintaining good relationships with all our stakeholders.”
COMPANY TO WATCH
CARGILL MEAT SOLUTIONS: Whether a retailer is working to develop a private-label brand or tailoring its meat department product mix to better serve local demographics, Cargill Meat Solutions has long been recognized as one of the best partners in the business. It's pork division is no exception. During the past decade, the company has invested more than $1 billion in research related to meat science, warehousing, food safety and distribution innovations, resulting in industry-leading safety protocols and cold-chain management systems.