#50: Anne Malleau – Executive Director of Global Animal Partnership
Anne Malleau Podcast Transcript
Neil Dudley: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Pederson’s Farms podcast. We are so excited you’re here. We appreciate you joining us. And we look forward to sharing these conversations with thought leaders from our industry. They’re going to paint a picture from every perspective – consumer, customer, vendor, employee, and peer – that I think is going to be super valuable, and we’re really excited to share. So, thanks for tuning in. Remember don’t tune out, and grab life by the bacon.
GAP. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? It means maybe a water gap, a gap in my teeth, gap between our thought process, their thought process, your thought process, my thought process. At Pederson’s, GAP, Global Animal Partnership, is so super important. I want you listeners, any PNFers out there that are paying attention to get to know Global Animal Partnership. Today’s guest Anne Malleau, she’s the director, the Executive Director of Global Animal Partnership, and we’re going to explore what that means, how this organization got started, how it holds standards for the industry. And I believe if you want to know where your food comes from, this is a huge integral piece of making that happen. So, a really, I’m glad you’re here. I’m super excited for you to meet Anne. If you are a first timer, I’m Neil Dudley, the VP of Business Development here at Pederson’s. I have been here for 20 years now. It’s kind of crazy. That turns out to be a long time. But we’ve just been building this brand, these products, this industry actually. Throughout that time, I was a QA Tech, I didn’t know really what I was doing. But over time, we, I guess you’d have to say, sort of figured it out. We’ll probably never have it absolutely figured out. But part of that learning is having these conversations. I was able to work myself up into a leadership position, so I know a lot of other leaders out in the industry, and I love to bring them on the show, give you a chance to meet them, hear their story, and know more about where your food comes from. So, let’s hurry, dive into it. Go to Global Animal Partnership’s website, it’ll be in the show notes, and check them out. There’s lots of good stuff there to help you understand more about how they ensure animals are raised to a certain standard of humane living, treatment, feeding, doctoring, all those things. All right, here we go. Let’s do it.
Hey, everybody, welcome to the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. If you haven’t been here before, you’re in for a real treat. We have Anne. Now, Anne, you’re going to have to make sure I pronounce your last name right. What’s the right way to do that?
Anne Malleau: Mallaeu.
Neil Dudley: I think I knew that, but I was just like I’m not even going to risk it.
Anne Malleau: It’s all the vowels. All the vowels, it messes you up.
Neil Dudley: Anyway, she is the big boss over at Global Animal Partnership. And she’s gave us about 30 minutes of her time here in her very busy schedule. So let’s dive into it real quickly. Anne, for everybody who’s not familiar with you, maybe just, I don’t know, a couple minutes on who you are and where you come from, and what gives you the skill set to be running that organization.
Anne Malleau: I’m Canadian. I actually live in Canada. So, I do my job from my farm in Canada. I’m married to a farmer. But I didn’t start out that way. I grew up in the city and decided after probably too many James Herriot books that I thought I wanted to be a vet. So, I went to the University of Guelph, and did a degree in agriculture and animal science. And because I came from the city, I spent a lot of time really trying to learn about farm animals. So, I worked a lot in the barns at the university and wherever I had an opportunity. And then when I graduated, I had spent some time working with a researcher there by the name of Dr. Ian Duncan. And he looked at poultry behavior and welfare. And so, I had worked for him for a couple of summers. It’s funny, I hated birds, actually, when I first went to school because I had worked at a vet clinic and had been bit by a lot of cockateels. And so, when I went to work with him, he’s like, well, I work with birds, but I decided to give it a go anyways and really, really enjoyed the work. And so, he is a poultry behavior ethologist, so he studies animal behavior in poultry, and that’s his specialty. And so, I stayed on and did a master’s with him in poultry behavior and welfare. And then I went down to the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and worked for the bioengineering department for a little while helping them with their experiments and then went and worked for a molecular genetic startup company and ran their farm. And then got kind of, well, I was sort of starving to death, let’s be honest. And then came home, started doing something completely unrelated agriculture. I was in sales, but it’s amazing how much I actually use those skills every day, and then decided to go back and do an MBA in agribusiness. And it was there that I had the opportunity to work with Whole Foods. I filled in for a meeting and then sort of started on the journey of animal welfare at a corporate level. And so, I think I bring sort of a unique balance of the research, the business, and the practical to the table. And I actually implemented the GAP program for Whole Foods Market. And so, I guess the lesson here is be careful what you wish for because I had a lot of, let’s say, opinions about what worked and what didn’t work when we first implemented the program. And so, when the previous ED parted ways, I was asked to sort of step in and help the organization grow. And so that’s what I did.
Neil Dudley: There we are. Well, that’s just a beautiful career path really. Isn’t it funny how we all end up somewhere in a career in business and it may not be where you really think you’re going to go at, let’s say, 16 to 22, whatever, those ages. I think for any listeners in that age group, if you happen to be about that age, I’d say just really keep your mind open to the opportunities. I mean, I wouldn’t even be at Pederson’s if the president of Pederson’s, Cody, a guy I happened to go to kindergarten and my whole, just went knew him forever, hadn’t have showed up to work the first day thinking he was going to be the marketing director, and then be told, oh, you’re going to be the Director of QA. And him just say, well, okay. I mean, this whole- we wouldn’t be here talking if he hadn’t of made that kind of crazy willingness to just say, whatever, I’ll take the job, let’s do it. I love the perspective you have as a city girl now really deep into animal agriculture. And I think that’s a great perspective for the audience to know and understand that you really can relate to somebody who may have never had that opportunity to be really close to animal agriculture. And now you’ve had a career or took a career path that puts you right next to animal agriculture. So, I think it’s a great- it just gives you a good perspective to have those debates from both sides of the table.
Anne Malleau: It really sort of challenges, I think, thinking. There’s been many times when you’ve had to sort of prove yourself that you knew what you were talking about. And one of the lessons that someone told me a long time ago is always be curious, never, ever lose that. And there’s nothing wrong with asking questions. And I think the more that you ask questions, even if you think you know something, the better perspective you bring to the table.
Neil Dudley: Now, we haven’t even really touched on GAP. What is that? What is the company? What is the purpose of it? This podcast is about giving people kind of really deep access and insight to our industry from a lot of perspectives that they may not even be aware of. So, this is the chance for them to hear about third party verified, humane treatment of animals, and how it actually happens.
Anne Malleau: Yeah, well, GAP was started in 2008. It’s a nonprofit organization. And really, at its simplest, it is an animal welfare standards and labeling organization. So, we’re a little team. We have a farm animal welfare team, and we have a business team. And we have a really unique standard in that it is not a one size fits all standard. It is what we call step levels, or it’s tiered is another way of thinking about it. And what’s really great about that is like I think of it as a roadmap. So, we bring people in at our base certification. And then from there, the standard helps people understand how they can make change, but in a way that’s supported. So, it’s good for the farmers and the animals, of course, but then it’s also good for the consumers because they really have a clear path as to what the different step levels mean because the framework is consistent across all of the farm animals. And so, if you’re picking up a package and you see step one or step four or step two, you have a good sense of what that means. The other thing that’s unique about GAP is that, as you mentioned, we are third party certified. So, what that means is that GAP doesn’t do the audits. We don’t do the audits. We don’t make the certificate decisions. So, we accredit, so basically approve the third-party certifiers. We work with four of them around the world. And so, we make sure that they are administering our standard to the way that we want. But they go out. They’re the ones that do the audits. They issue the audit reports, corrective actions, or certificates. And they manage the program for us. So, another way to sort of think about that is the separation of church and state. And why that’s important is it really takes bias out. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We established relationships with people, and that can cloud judgment. So, by being able to have that differentiation and have the third party auditors and certifiers making those decisions, it really does remove bias out of the equation.
Neil Dudley: Totally. And as a brand, I want that credibility. Like I want to be able to represent and show, look, we’re not buying GAP off to get approved. We couldn’t. Even if I’m friends with Anne, I’ll tell you, she’s a tough cookie, she will negotiate your tail off because she’s there. She is, in the way I think about it, you’re like the animal’s lawyer. Like you are out there making their case and holding- Look, we’re all trying to make money, build our business, so when those words come into play, as ethical and as real as you want to be and Pederson’s is, we can still fall prey to that ah, let’s tweak that one little thing, make a little penny or two more. No, no, somebody’s got to- So I’m so glad GAP stands in that hole, kind of advocating for the animals and building a program that also, in a way, advocates for small farmers and ranchers to get money for the effort they’re making.
Anne Malleau: One of the things that’s been really important to GAP is you can have a great standard, but if you don’t help the farmers and even the brands that are in the program, then it can really sort of fall apart. Because the way people buy animals these days is very different than how they did 100 years ago. But if you talk to the average consumer, a lot of them still think that the grocery store gets in carcasses, and they cut them down, and then they put them in their coolers for sale. But it doesn’t work that way. And so, what we’ve done is really try to work with as many different brands as we can so that the farmers can sell as much of their animals that are GAP certified as possible so that it keeps everybody whole, keeps everybody just sustainable. There’re many different ways to look at sustainability. And if you’ve got a pet food guy, and a baby food company, and a sausage maker, and a hamburger maker, and retail, and food service, and all of those people that are buying from the farms, then everybody wins, and the consumer, of course, at the end. So, you have great animal welfare on farm, but then you’re able to build a path and be able to make that grow. And right now, GAP certifies over 400 million animals annually across 11 different countries. And so that impact and having that many animals is really important to be able to continue to grow the program.
Neil Dudley: If people were watching on YouTube, they could have seen my eyebrows raise when you talked about sustainability and money because I think it’s so really imperative that sustainability has to go along with financial sustainability, not just is this regenerative, is this- Matter of fact- So anyways, I think everybody gets that point, but money has to be thought of in sustainability. How about the word regenerative? What does that- Are y’all going to make a certification for proving we’re regenerative?
Anne Malleau: Yeah, that is a great question. So, I mentioned that we’re this sort of roadmap, and we support all different types of production systems. You can have good animal welfare inside and out. And for us, I think regenerative makes more sense to us at this point with ruminant species. I think it’s a little bit more challenging to see, with pork and poultry, how regenerative works. But really, at the end of the day, Neil, it’s not our core competency. Welfare and production is where we’re really good. And obviously, we’ve got some higher level steps that are pasture based, so we know about managing pasture. But that whole soil health piece, it’s not my area of expertise. We’ve been looking for a partner because rather than have someone whose area of expertise is in animal welfare doing animal welfare and us doing regenerative when it’s not our area of expertise, what we’ve been trying to do is find partners so that we can each have our areas of expertise but work together. It also, in theory, would help reduce audit costs and audit fatigue for the farmers if we were able to collaborate more. Right now, we’ve not had a ton of success with that. But it is something that we’re looking to do. Because it’s important to consumers, it’s important to the world. But I don’t think starting a new program and then trying to be everything is necessarily working. Because unless you have a lot of money behind you and you’re able to bring in those areas of expertise, it’s really hard to do a good job across the board. But if we can collaborate and work together, then there- and also share learnings. We’ve been at this for a long time. And one of the things I see with new organizations is they’re making the same mistakes we made a long time ago. So, it’s like let’s work together and see what we can do to really move the needle.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, I love it. When you hear the word regenerative, is that what you think of, soil health? See, I think, it’s hard to define what is even the definition?
Anne Malleau: I think it’s challenging too because what works for a rancher in Texas isn’t necessarily going to work for a rancher in the Midwest. Different soil, different climate, different microbiology. And I think, while there is fundamental guideposts and guardrails for regen ag, I think it’s still new in terms of how you actually apply it. And I think some of the challenge, too, is that people are looking at it as a differentiator and as a way to make premiums. And I don’t know if there is a path forward with that. There may be, if you’re able to, again, like put different attributes together, but I don’t think it’s easy. And when you talk to some of the regulatory officials in terms of like labeling because we get asked all the time, is GAP going to do this? And I’m like, oh, not without a lot more resources, I’m not going to do it. But once people start marketing it and talking about it, the horse has kind of left the stable, so to speak, and then being able to make sure that consumers understand it so that the brands have value, I think, is a big challenge.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, it’s a little bit like the wild west right now. Everybody sees a consumer inclination to pay a premium for a regenerative product. So, people were trying- I think it’s just a big onus for us brands, well, everybody really that’s a stakeholder in the industry, to try to clear that up. You just don’t want it to be real confusing, which sometimes it’s inevitable.
Anne Malleau: Well, I think like I can go into a farm and make a lot of change in a relatively short period of time. But with regen and looking at changing your soil health practices and seeing the impacts of that, it’s much slower. A lot of times people talk about sort of a 5 to 10 year cycle; that gets harder to monetize, and especially if that’s different, and if people are at different starting points. So, I think it’s an absolutely, like really important initiative, but what it looks like and how we define it, and how we measure it, I think is challenging.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, I love talking to you. It’s so fun just to have somebody that’s in these kinds of niches all day, every day with these people, having the same conversations, asking these questions. I don’t typically get to be. Okay, so we’re going to spin around a little bit and talk about sales. You said you use those sales skills you found when you did a little bit of sales pretty much every day. Talk about that a little bit.
Anne Malleau: I will say that running this program is probably the hardest job I’ve ever had because we are selling a program. There needs to be a value proposition for people to work with us. And people are on different ends of that spectrum as well. Like some people might be like, okay, go find me some product, and then I’ll put it in my quesadillas. Or other people might say, okay, I need to transition my supply chain, what does that look like? But at the end of the day, it always comes down to how much is it going to cost me? And what do I get for that cost? And we’re a tiny little wee team, with a tiny little resource bank. And so being able to sell the value of GAP and you get a brand to invest in the program, what we can do to help promote animal welfare, promote the brand, it really is as much about working with companies as it is about improving animal welfare on the farm. And it’s one of those things that most- a lot of people are like, no, it can’t be just about- it can’t be about that. But I actually think that’s some of what is GAP’s special sauce is it’s not just about doing great things on farm. It’s being able to talk about that and to bring people along and to show the value. and there’s other, there’s the ethical component, but there’s risk management in that. There’s a lot of change in the protein industry right now. We’re seeing a lot of alternatives and the growth of alternatives. And so why would I worry about changing stuff on farm? Why don’t I just go with an alternative protein? So, we get the GAP value, what is the GAP value from I think a variety of different angles. And we’re also having to evolve as well. Like one of the things from GAP’s perspective is we are firm believers in continuous improvement. What can we do to not only move the needle for animal welfare, but continue to move the needle for the brands that work with us? And right now, our big initiative has been around technology. How can we bring technology into the program to make things more efficient? And traceability. How can we improve traceability and chain of custody and all of those things?
Neil Dudley: I’ve got six questions rolling around in my brain, but every time you talk, I get a new one. Like now I want to say is blockchain tied to any of that technology you’re checking out?
Anne Malleau: We’re actually building the frameworks because a lot of people will say, I want that. But then when you say, okay, this is what that costs, they’re like, oh, maybe I don’t want that, but I want like the slimmer version of that. And so, what we’re doing is really building the foundations so that we’re able to either go a specific direction, like blockchain, or be able to have the framework to work within other systems. That’s been probably the most challenging thing, too, is we stem from working with a retailer, so you get very used to working within distribution centers and systems that function for retail. But then you move to food service, and that’s a whole other game. And so, you’re like, okay, so now I need to build a system that can work with both because both are important, and sometimes both are the answer to making things work. And then there’s pet food, which are really the- they’re our little shining gold star for us because they’ve been the driver, they’ve helped us drive the program more than any other category, to be honest.
Neil Dudley: That’s just awesome. I mean, I relate to that because Pederson’s was mainly a retail focused brand and company, and we’ve started- you learn the other side of the coin, if you want to say the foodservice side of the coin, the industrial kind of big tech campus side of the coin, all those things, they want some different stuff. Their expectations are surprisingly different. Like the spec sheet is super important on that side of the coin, where on the retail side of the coin, it’s not as important because you almost have a spec sheet on the product with the label. But anyways, we’ve learned some of that exact same lesson, that man, you have to learn a lot pretty quickly to kind of get in that game. I want to know- I’ve said this a few times, and it is the truth, I want to know how you feel about it. So we’ll do a webinar and we have questions from the audience, and some are like, okay, well, when is Pederson’s going to be step five, three, two? Like, what’s your plan to move up the ladder? And what I say and what is really true is we’re trying to transition more of our pigs, we’re trying to have an effect from no certified humane or not Certified Humane, but Global Animal Partnership audit, we’re trying to get as many from there to step one, and really not so focused on going from step one to two, three, four, whatever. How do you feel about that? Are you like a little bit unhappy with me or happy? Or what do you think?
Anne Malleau: Not at all, for a couple of reasons. So, I think you can have good welfare indoors and outdoors. They’re just different. You have different challenges. But I also think the one thing that sort of gets discounted with our program is we when we review our standard, we review all of the different levels. But fundamentally, we don’t buy your product. And so, the fact that you’ve come in and made a commitment to working with GAP is really what we’re really excited about. But if you have a customer that comes to you and says, hey, Neil, I want you to put your pigs outside. If you have a customer that’s asking you to do that, and you have the supply chain to do that, or you have one earmark that you want us to help you with, then we can do that, and then help you, if you need help, with all the other bits of the animal. I think it’s a really, really complex equation that a lot of people think also that there is the premium, it’s sort of like you get one cent for step one, two cents for step two, three cents, and so forth. And it really doesn’t work that way. It’s really about carcass utilization and market at end of the chain. Like we had this with beef, where we had everyone’s saying, oh, all your beef is step one except for your grass fed and like how are we going to get it outside? Well, how it happened is we had customers saying, I don’t want grass fed beef, I want grain finished beef, but I don’t want it from a feedlot. So then once we had a customer saying we want that, then we went out to try and find a partner. And at that point, the beef industry thought we were crazy. But we found a partner in Country Natural Beef. And we built this pilot program. And now 85% of all of the beef ranches that are in the program are step four because we figured out a way to finish them on grain but in pasture environments. But if we wouldn’t have had that customer, then it wouldn’t have happened. You need all of- you need the farms, but you need the customer. And then you need somebody that’s looking for step four product for all the other bits because that end customer probably isn’t going to buy it all. And so that’s something that we’ve often heard from some of the other NGOs that we need to have a requirement to move up the steps. And really, we’re capitalists; we live in a capitalist world. It’s market driven. Like we can’t force that because we don’t buy the product. So, we’re happy to support and to show the different attributes that the different step levels have. But I’ve never been a supporter of pushing people where there isn’t a market because they’ll fail.
Neil Dudley: Yeehaw! Consumers drive- I mean, if you’re a consumer and you want something, go tell your retailer. If you’re a retailer, and you have consumers wanting something, go tell your vendors, tell GAP. Like that’s how it works. That’s why we’re trying to tell this story with all of those people kind of as a piece of it, consumers, customers, vendors, employees of Pederson’s, peers. That’s the group of people that drives innovation, market change, all those things. Wow, I do just really love talking to you because we have just this kind of similar expectation. Like we want to have success really filter across the whole thing from the farmer up to the retailer up to the consumer. I mean, if you don’t see all of those places being successful, it’s not quite as fun.
Anne Malleau: Absolutely. And it’s not long lasting. It’s very short term. Products come to market, and if nobody wants them, no one’s willing to pay for them. Nobody wants the attributes that they bring, then they die a quick and painful death. And it is painful.
Neil Dudley: All right, hey, that’s 30 minutes, and it flies by like no time. I don’t want to sign off without giving you an opportunity to plug anything GAP has going on or that you just want somebody to know about that I don’t know about that that I haven’t asked you about.
Anne Malleau: We’ve got two big initiatives that we’re getting ready to launch here in June. So, we’re going to be going into the aquaculture sphere. So, we’ll be launching tiered animal welfare standard for farmed Atlantic salmon. So, the first of its kind in the world. So, we’re excited about that. And then we’ve been spending years working about improving broiler genetics with our Better Chicken project. And we’ll be launching some products with that coming very soon as well. So, lots in the news. And we’re really excited to be able to, again, just continue to sort of push the envelope while supporting all of the farmers and brands that we work with.
Neil Dudley: Oh, and I will sell you because, everybody, if you’re listening, if you’re a brand, if you’re- we have listeners all across the gamut from consumers to brands to competitors, you should give GAP a good hard look. They will definitely support you. They’ll work hard to add value. I would say they under promise and over deliver in a big way. And I really, just as a guy, I mean, Anne’s not paying me for this plug. It’s just true. They’re great to work with. I mean, I’m able to talk to the director. She’s a busy lady. You can’t just always have her cell phone number, but you can get to the top of the organization, and that’s nice from a brand’s perspective. Shout out to Diane, all the team over at GAP. That whole group is just fun to work with and a great resource.
Anne Malleau: Well, thank you so much. We love working with Pederson’s.
Neil Dudley: All right, everybody. Hey, there you go. Please go Google Global Animal Partnership, go to their website. We’ll put all these things in the show notes. Connect with Anne on LinkedIn. Just follow what they’re up to, and you’re going to learn a lot and you’re going to be more educated and be able to make a better decision when you go to the grocery store or the restaurant, and you see something about humanely treated animals, you can understand it better. Anne, thank you so much.
Anne Malleau: Thank you so much, Neil. All right, we’ll talk to you guys later.
Neil Dudley: See you around. Have a good one.
Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. It’s been a blast bringing this to you, and I sure hope you enjoyed it and found value. If you did, tell a friend, share it out on social media, hit that subscribe button, or go check us out at pedersonsfarms.com. We sure hope you do. And thanks for being here.
(3:21) – Anne’s background and work with GAP
(8:09) – What is GAP and why does it matter?
(13:48) – Thoughts on Regenerative Certification
(18:30) – Anne’s Sales Philosophy
(21:00) – Is blockchain tied to any of the technology you’re building?
(23:10) – How do you feel about Pederson’s GAP progress?
The Pederson’s Farms Podcast is produced by Johnny Podcasts & Root and Roam.