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Angus Journal

Copyright © 2016
Angus Media.
All Rights Reserved

Sustainability is a Group Project

Panelists explore definition of sustainability and what it will take to attain it.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2016) — A return on investment (ROI) isn’t always easy to report in exact dollars and cents.

That’s how it is with sustainability measures, said John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef LLC, as he addressed the Cattlemen’s College® attendees during the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego, Calif.

John StikaWhen it comes to sustainability, said CAB President John Stika, “you never really arrive.”

“Premiums and revenue and return on investment show themselves in different forms,” he said. There will likely never be the same economic incentive for sustainability that there is for weight or quality, but it’s still a very important topic for the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand.

“It’s really about demand protection and growth,” he said.

John Butler of Beef Marketing Group moderated the panel that also included Paige Hartley of the Darden Restaurants Inc. and Keith Anderkin, the meat buyer for Arby’s.

Butler said his partner feedyards take an approach to the topic that can be summed up in a question: “Are we better today than we were yesterday?”

The panel set out to represent the viewpoint of beef end users.

“We have to listen to our guests and respond appropriately,” Hartley said. For them, that is different in each of their seven restaurant concepts — from The Capital Grille to the Olive Garden. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.”

Anderkin also stressed the partnership mentality.

“We need you guys to be successful for us to be successful,” he told the cattlemen. Beef is the biggest item on Arby’s menu, and Anderkin said it “has a great story to tell across the board.”
Even if the beef community feels like it’s already sustainable, stakeholders need to listen to the consumer’s definition.

Sustainability panel

From left, John Butler of the Beef Marketing Group moderated the panel consisting of Keith Anderkin, meat buyer for Arby's; Stika; and Paige Hartley of Darden Restaurants Inc.

“If demand goes away for beef, how sustainable are you?” Anderkin asked.

All four companies are members of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), which describes sustainability as, “environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable,” Butler said.

This topic can come with tension, but it shouldn’t, Stika said. “This is not a threat. It’s an opportunity.”

One that will continue to grow in importance in the near future. When it comes to sustainability, Stika said, “you never really arrive.”

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