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How the U.S. Chicken Industry is Producing More Food with Fewer Resources

It takes a healthy environment, fresh water, fertile soil and clean air to raise and produce chicken. Through continuous innovation, the U.S. broiler chicken industry has become significantly more efficient in its use of water, farmland, electricity, and other valuable resources, and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Using new, third-party data from Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Specialist Dr. Greg Thoma and colleague Ben Putman, the National Chicken Council (NCC) quantified the environmental impact of U.S. broiler (chicken raised for meat) production across key impact categories over their entire life cycle. The results are published in the Broiler Production System Life Cycle Assessment: 2020 Update. This assessment showcases where the industry stands now, how sustainability impacts have changed in 10 years, and where we can improve next.

Even with U.S. broiler production increasing 21% from 2010 to 2020, the chicken industry charted noteworthy improvements in key sustainability intensity metrics (environmental footprint per kilogram of bird).  

  • Land use: down 13% 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon footprint): down 18% 
  • Water consumption: down 13% 
  • Fossil resources use: down 22%
  • Particulate forming emissions: down 22%

So what does this mean? The U.S. chicken industry is producing more chicken with fewer resources. We achieved these gains with greater efficiency and a lighter environmental footprint than ever before. This is in light of the fact that chicken production has long had less environmental impact than almost any other animal agriculture industry.

Take a deeper dive into why U.S. chicken production is more sustainable than ever. View the complete inaugural NCC sustainability report here.