Tyson Foods announced Tuesday (Sept. 10) the promotion of John Randal Tyson, a fourth-generation family member, to chief sustainability officer. The 29-year-old Tyson is the son of company chairman, John H. Tyson, and great-grandson of Tyson’s founder John W. Tyson.
John Randal Tyson assumes effective immediately the duties of Justin Whitmore, who has held dual roles of chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of corporate strategy since May 2017. The company said those roles have been divided and Whitmore will focus on leading Tyson Foods growing alternative protein business.
In his new role, John Randal Tyson will lead the company’s efforts to support a more sustainable food system. This includes implementing the company’s sustainability strategy and commitments as well as managing the sustainability, animal welfare, environmental and social responsibility teams. He will office in Springdale and report directly to CEO Noel White.
“I am excited to play a role in leading our company’s sustainability efforts,” said Tyson. “Taking care of our people and our planet is a priority for Tyson Foods. We are uniquely positioned to lead within the global food system, and therefore we must continue challenging ourselves to be stewards of our natural resources while striving to feed the world safely, affordably and with delicious food.”
Tyson recently joined the company. Over the past five years, he has been an observer at the company’s board meetings. He is also a lecturer at the Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas and resides in Fayetteville. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and a master’s in business administration from Stanford University. Before joining Tyson Foods he worked for J.P. Morgan and as private equity venture capital investor, according to the release.
“John has a passion for sustainability as well as the leadership skills to help continue the momentum we’ve built,” said CEO Noel White. “He cares deeply about the people of this company, understands the strategic growth opportunities in sustainable protein, and recognizes the importance of our enterprise-wide sustainability commitments.”
The company has been criticized for having a less-than-stellar record in sustainability given its carbon footprint of more than 100 U.S. plants and processing facilities. Tyson has made bold commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020.
The company partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund to increase sustainable farming practices on more than 2 million acres of corn by 2020. The company also employs the largest team of animal welfare specialists in the industry and continues to provide training for frontline workers.
That said, the company still has a recent track record of environmental accidents in Missouri and Alabama that polluted major waterways. A chemical spill in June at the Berry Street chicken processing plant in Springdale sent five workers to the hospital.
The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index analyzes 60 of the top global protein companies. The recent report found Tyson Foods was rated among the best performers with respect to their management of greenhouse gas emissions and investments in sustainable proteins. Tyson was the only meat processor to make the best performers list.
The report said Tyson Foods is the only company with a science-based target for emissions reduction. However, it has yet to disclose some of the biggest sources of emissions, such as enteric fermentation, feed production and manure management.