Brazil’s Beef Giant JBS Hires Its First Global Sustainability Chief

The new executive is tasked with getting the Brazil-based meat behemoth to its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

Beef production with its belching cattle is notorious for its voluminous emissions.
By Michael Hirtzer and Tatiana Freitas
September 21, 2022 | 05:19 PM
Reading time: 1 min.

Bloomberg — The world’s largest meat company, JBS SA (JBSS3), is hiring its first-ever global chief sustainability officer.

Jason Weller, who most recently led Truterra, the agricultural sustainability business at farm cooperative Land O’Lakes Inc., is tasked with getting the Brazil-based meat behemoth to its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

His hiring is an effort to improve JBS’ sentiment among ESG investors as the company has been criticized along with other beef producers for not properly tracking its supply chain and contributing to deforestation.

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Reaching the net-zero target won’t be easy. Beef production with its belching cattle is notorious for its voluminous emissions. One of the biggest boosters of greenhouse gases is the deforestation of the Amazon, which has been linked to grazing cattle. Meanwhile, a growing world population means more food needs to be produced while an expanding middle class boosts appetites for meat.

“To feed a world of 10 billion is going to be the single greatest challenge,” Weller said in an interview. “We’re going to be taxing our natural resource systems incredibly.”

Weller, also a former chief of the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, said his first order of business will be to assess the company’s entire meat supply chain, beginning with grain producers and cattle ranchers. Brazil’s Amazon will be a focus, because that where humans will make “the best progress and the best results” on deforestation, Weller said.

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