Just in time for Earth Day, the National Pork Board has released a new study from the University of Arkansas confirming that “today’s pork is more earth-friendly than ever thanks to great progress in multiple key sustainability metrics over more than five decades.”
According to the new study, A Retrospective Assessment of U.S. Pork Production: 1960 to 2015, the inputs needed to produce a pound of pork in the United States have become more environmentally friendly over time. Specifically, 75.9% less land is needed, 25.1% less water and 7% less energy. This also has resulted in a 7.7% smaller carbon footprint (see infographic.)
To save as much water as today’s pig farms do over their predecessors of 50-plus years ago, the average American would have to take 90 fewer showers per year. Likewise, to understand the energy savings accomplished by pig farmers during the study period, a typical household would need to eliminate the use of a refrigerator altogether.
This new Pork Checkoff-funded study used a comprehensive life-cycle assessment approach with a field-to-farm gate approach, including material and energy flows associated with the full supply chain, beginning with extraction of raw materials through production of live, market-weight pigs, including marketed sows.