China’s broiler producers challenged to be transparent — Preparing the eater to like Chinese chicken …

China’s broiler producers challenged to be transparent

Written August 24, 2015

By Terrence O’Keefe

Cargill executive says transparency and development of a food safety culture in broiler companies are keys to regaining consumer trust.

The white feather broiler industry in China is in what Christopher Langholz, president, Cargill Animal Protein China, called “a financial and consumer trust crisis.”

The rapid expansion of the industry has finally outstripped consumer demand, which has decreased somewhat along with consumers’ trust in poultry as a result of some high profile food safety issues. As a result, broiler producers are experiencing financial losses while at the same time looking for ways to regain consumer trust in poultry products.

Langholz, speaking at the International Poultry Forum China, in Shanghai, said, “Consumers in China want global standards for food safety.”

He stressed that food safety is not a competitive advantage that one poultry producer can use to advance its business.

“Food safety is a shared responsibility,” he said. “A few bad actors can destroy value for everyone. If one company has a food safety problem with chicken, we all suffer. The entire industry must be brought up to the same standard.”

He went on to explain that the industry must have a commitment to public health. Business as usual won’t provide the change the industry needs.

“We have to think differently,” he said.

Transparency is vital

During the forum, the topic of misinformation spread through social media about poultry and how they are raised was discussed. Langholz said that transparency in how broiler producers conduct their business is the best way to avoid misinformation like “chickens with four or six wings” from gaining traction and going viral on the Internet. In a society where most people have smartphones with cameras, information about things people are concerned about, like how birds are raised and processed, will get on the Internet, right or wrong, eventually.

“In today’s world, you can’t hide anything, so you better have nothing to hide,” Langholz said.

Cargill has worked to be transparent in its broiler operation in China. Langholz said the complex has hosted more than 100 Chinese media people in their two years of operation. He encourages other broiler producers in China to do the same.

“It is something we have to do,” he said.

Global standard for food safety

Langholz said that Cargill has 12,000 locations around the world, but one food safety standard for all locations. The company’s broiler operations in China are Food Safety Certification System 22000 (FSCS 22000) certified and follow the same standards as the rest of the company’s operations. He said they have complete farm-to-table traceability for the company’s chicken products in China available within 2 hours.

“This includes everything the birds were fed,” he said.

Terrence O’Keefe is editor of Egg Industry and content director of agri-business at WATT Global Media. To contact O’Keefe, email