In addition to being the Brazilian meat giant, JBS is the largest tanning group in the world with 22 production sites and 5 distribution centres spread across four continents. JBS Couros produces finished and semi-finished leathers for all sectors and target markets, employing 6,700 people worldwide.
JBS has long developed and implemented a rigorous leather traceability system. To promote maximum transparency on the market, recently they created the JBS360 platform where you can get all the information on each individual hide by going up the supply chain to the slaughterhouse and the farm that supplied the livestock on that specific date, in addition of course to the name of the tannery that made the leather item.
JBS states that 93% of the company’s raw hides currently come from its beef processing plants. But that also third-party slaughter plants that provide the remaining 7% are committed to following the same standards set by their livestock purchasing policy, ensuring in particular that animals come from farms that are not located in deforestation areas, indigenous areas or environmental conservation areas; that do not use slave-like labour and that are not subject to environmental embargo.
We asked Kim Sena, JBS’s Sustainability Manager, a few questions
We know that JBS has adopted a fully integrated traceability platform. How it works in short?
“JBS possesses a broad georeferencing system that identifies deforestation polygons on satellite images of the Brazilian Legal Amazon within a surface of more than 450,000km2 (111 million acres), larger than Germany. Concurrently, we demand that all of our suppliers have the GPS location of their farms uploaded on a public database. When we overlap these two pieces of information, we are able to identify uncompliant farms and immediately block them from our supply chain, guaranteeing a zero tolerance approach to deforestation.
This system has been running for years, but we felt the need to make it as transparent as it can be. That is why we launched the JBS360 platform (http://jbs360.com.br): it is an easy-to-use open interface to allow everyone to see with their own eyes how the traceability system works. By locating the traceability stamp present in every JBS leather and typing it into JBS360, anyone can easily visualize the robustness of the control, from farms to finished leather”.
Why leather traceability is so important on the market today?
“Consumers are and will be increasingly more conscientious about how they buy goods. The way this is already expressed during purchase decisions is very clear for brands all over the world, especially in more mature markets, where consumers continuously shift towards brands that take responsibility for their supply chain sustainability.
There is no way to be sustainable while looking at a single cell, you have to provide solutions for the whole organism, and it will always get to how responsible you were while sourcing the raw materials. Also, the customer reaction to brands during the pandemics is one more example of how they tend to value companies that are transparent about what goes on inside its boundaries. Traceability is becoming the underpinning of trust for consumer goods and retailing companies”.
When did JBS start to work on leather traceability and what are the main results obtained so far?
“JBS was among the first signatories of the 2009 Cattle Agreement in Brazil, formalizing its commitment to providing solutions to combat deforestation. It was
then that its ethical sourcing system began to be shaped and never stopped improving. By embracing the responsibility of being a vector of change and providing practical solutions for a historical and structural problem, we see that we are recognized by our customers because of our actions, providing them with the tranquillity necessary to carry on their core businesses”.
How many hides do you work in a month in your plants? How many of them are already fully traced? What are the main problems?
“JBS produces 780 thousand hides monthly worldwide, where the crushing majority have full traceability. Among the Brazilian hides (600 thousand monthly), we provide full traceability to all the hides, where 93% of can be consulted online through the JBS360 system, while the other 7%, sourced from slaughterhouses from different companies, can have its farms accessed under consultation. The main problems are developing and implementing more technological solutions to traceability methodologies (i.e. digital tracking of individual hides), which is extremely hard to implement due to the inherently complex production system of tanneries”.
Next goals in terms of enhancing leather production sustainability?
“Besides doing the homework of guaranteeing that only the most sustainable chemicals available are used in our processes, to make leather increasingly more sustainable we are working on a scientific based approach to leather making through quantifiable methodologies. By assessing the different environmental impact categories since the beginning of the development of leather articles, we can develop evermore sustainable products. We have the goal of structuring increasingly robust R&D processes to guarantee sustainability KPIs are used as guidelines in all new projects, so that every article created is more environmentally friendly than the previous one”.