Sustainability 101 Case Example: Perdue Farms

Perdue Farms is the family-owned parent company of Perdue Foods and Perdue AgriBusiness. The company is “dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for everyone we touch through innovative food and agricultural products,” and had sales of approximately $6 billion in 2014.

“We were sustainable before sustainability was cool… We had tracked our water and energy usage for a very long time, and were always looking for ways to reduce them. Back then, it was called “frugality.” Now, we’ve expanded those basic metrics into a comprehensive environmental scorecard used to assess the performance and environmental impact of each of our facilities against annual improvement goals that are set. These improvements, as measured by the scorecard results, are a core part of our management incentive program.”

[This case example originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]

Case Study: Oyster Recovery Partnership – Perdue

Case Study: Oyster Recovery Partnership – Perdue

Perdue initiated its associate-level support for the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) in 2009. The Oyster Recovery Partnership aligned with Perdue’s values especially its value of stewardship. ORP was making a concrete contribution to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by restoring the oyster populations that are the bay’s natural filters and the company’s chairman, Jim Perdue, was on their board. The company provides financial support to the partnership through the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, the company’s charitable giving arm. Most importantly, partnership created volunteer opportunities for associates to personally impact the oyster recovery efforts.

Jim Perdue, who has a Doctorate in Fisheries, is a personal champion of oyster recovery as a key to restoring the Chesapeake Bay. He has instilled in many associates an understanding of the importance of oyster recovery. His enthusiasm has encouraged associates to take ownership of recruiting volunteers, making it a true grassroots effort. These inspired associates sponsored and promoted family-friendly shell-bagging events, creating hands-on engagement opportunities. Internal promotion of the events, including photographs and video, helped drive additional employee awareness. Associates also appreciated that their efforts were going to a support a natural resource – the Chesapeake Bay – that they, as residents of the Bay region, value.

Since 2009, over 350 Perdue volunteers on Delmarva have filled more than 5,400 shell bags, which were, in turn, used by the Oyster Recovery Partnership to nurture spat (oyster larvae attached to shells), which were raised by community volunteers.

[This case study was featured in the GEMI Quick Guide for Engaging Employees in Sustainability.]

Case Study: Solar Installation Partnership

Case Study: Perdue Farms, Inc. – Solar Installation Partnership

Perdue Farms, Inc. partnered with a utility and a solar integrator in 2011 to develop two solar projects at its corporate offices in Salisbury, Maryland (1.3 MW) and a feed mill in Bridgeville, Delaware (1.6 MW). Perdue entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) where it provided land, and third parties financed, installed, and maintained the project. Perdue purchases all power. In addition to being financially beneficial and providing a strong price risk management tool, Perdue views the projects as a key part of their overall renewable portfolio and sustainability initiatives.  The projects also contribute to a compelling and visible corporate message regarding its commitment to renewable fuels.

This case study originally appeared in The GEMI Quick Guide on Renewable and Alternative Energy.

Images: Perdue Farm, Inc.’s corporate headquarters in Salisbury, MD; Perdue’s Bridgeville, Delaware grain facility and feed mill. Source:; Photograph taken by James Whitaker, Energy Procurement and Risk Management Director, Perdue Farms, Inc.

Case Study: Project Clean Stream – Perdue

Case Study: Project Clean Stream

Perdue has long supported the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay though corporate sponsorship and board involvement. Perdue pursued the partnership with the organization due to the Alliance’s experience in bringing together broad spectrums of stakeholders into collaborative efforts. In 2008, Perdue provided financial support for the Alliance’s Project Clean Stream, through a grant from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, and put out a call for associate volunteers on Delmarva (the Delmarva peninsula encompasses portions of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia).

The partnership’s first event was modest:  30 volunteers at a single site not far from Perdue’s corporate office in Salisbury, Maryland. The volunteers included the company’s Chairman and other senior leaders, who waded into the mucky shoreline of two local waterways collecting everything from cans and bottles to rusted bicycles and used car tires. Organizers shared photos of the event through company-wide communication channels.

Following the inaugural event, an effort led by associates expanded the program across Perdue facilities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. When associates saw the opportunity to do something in their own communities, and of their own choosing, interest spread.

Project Clean Stream is now a company-wide event. Environmental managers at each location work with their local management teams to recruit volunteers. The Corporate Communication department identifies an individual on each team to report on the local results and provide photographs of the team. The communications team publishes the information on the company Intranet and Facebook page. As a result, there is now a friendly rivalry between locations to outdo each other and the volume and pounds of trash and debris collected from their local waterways continues to increase.

In 2014, more than 890 Perdue associates and family members harvested more than 74,000 pounds of trash and debris from 52 sites across nine states. Since 2008, more than 4,100 Perdue employees have collected more than a quarter million pounds of trash.

[This case study was featured in the GEMI Quick Guide for Engaging Employees in Sustainability.]