Zoetis Breaks New Ground In Sustainable Pork Production

IMPROVEST® life cycle assessment and Environmental Product Declaration
represent first to be awarded to an animal health company

FLORHAM PARK, N.J., Jan. 14, 2014 — Zoetis recently unveiled new research that shows how a technology to control unpleasant odors in pork from some male pigs could help reduce the environmental impact of pork production. The research is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA) conducted in the United States for IMPROVEST® (gonadotropin releasing factor analog – diphtheria toxoid conjugate), an FDA-approved veterinary prescription product that successfully maintains pork quality and offers farmers an alternative way to manage this production issue.

The LCA found that even modest adoption rates (33%) of IMPROVEST on U.S. pig farms could generate significant environmental benefits.1 This outcome reinforced findings of an LCA conducted in countries outside the U.S., which supported the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD®) granted to IMPROVEST by the International Environmental Consortium in 2012. The U.S. study was funded by Zoetis and conducted by the University of Arkansas.

“With protein demand growing worldwide, IMPROVEST can help the entire pork supply chain be even more sustainable,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. “The LCA analysis shows significant reductions in feed, water and land usage associated with use of IMPROVEST.”

This year, a team of environmental experts from the University of Arkansas, The Prasino Group and Life Cycle Engineering analyzed U.S. LCA data for IMPROVEST. The analysis found that if one-third of the nation’s pig farmers adopted IMPROVEST, the following benefits would result:2

  • Better feed conversion, which could save nearly 60 pounds of feed per pig over physically castrated pigs. That equates to a savings of more than 500,000 tons of feed per year.
  • Improved feed efficiency, which could save 37 pounds of corn and distillers grains and more than 11 pounds of soybean meal per pig, helping to reduce land use by 137,000 acres per year.
  • Reduced water use, by as much as 130 gallons per market pig raised using IMPROVEST, or 2.3 billion gallons per year.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by more than 500,000 tons per year, or the equivalent of eliminating GHG emissions from about 104,000 cars. 

IMPROVEST is the first product from an animal health company to qualify for an EPD. It certifies that using IMPROVEST benefits the environment on important indicators such as global warming potential, total energy consumption, resource use and waste generation. It is validated by a third party to ensure relevant and comparable information about its environmental impact.

Using IMPROVEST® helps farmers capture the inherent advantages of raising intact male pigs. Male pigs are given IMPROVEST in the finishing phase, eliminating the need for physical castration early in life. As a result, male pigs are able to fully express their natural potential for feed-efficient growth, with all the inherent performance advantages of intact males, for the majority of the production cycle.

In August, representatives from Zoetis presented the LCA findings at the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) 2013 Sustainability Summit, as part of a session titled “Sustainable Livestock Production: A Key Component in Sustainability Strategies.” With the case study of IMPROVEST as its focus, the expert panel connected the impact of this technology to benefits that the food supply chain stands to gain as a result — benefits that range from improved economic and environmental health to improved meat quality.
“The majority of our business is linked to food production, and we believe it’s important to provide knowledge to help our customers as well as other stakeholders to make informed decisions that can enhance their businesses,” said Christi Calhoun, senior manager, Food Chain Outreach, Zoetis. “We are encouraged with these findings and are eager to share these advancements with the entire supply chain.”

Important Safety Information: Pregnant women should not administer IMPROVEST. Women of childbearing age, as well as men, should exercise extreme caution when administering this product. Exercise special care to prevent accidental self-injection because of negative effects on reproductive physiology in both men and women. However, there is no risk associated with consuming pork from animals administered this product. IMPROVEST should not be used in female pigs, barrows, or male pigs intended for breeding. Click here to see the full Prescribing Information.


IMPROVEST® is an FDA-approved veterinary prescription product that is a safe and effective alternative to physical castration. It is a protein compound that works like an immunization to protect against unpleasant aromas that can occur when cooking pork from some intact male pigs. It uses the pig’s own immune system to provide the same effect as physical castration, but much later in the male pig’s life than physical castration is traditionally done. For more information on how IMPROVEST works, visit IMPROVEST.com.

About Zoetis

Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2012, the company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion. With approximately 9,300 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2013, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information on the company, visit www.zoetisUS.com.

Zoetis is the proud sponsor with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the American Veterinary Medical Association of the mobile educational exhibit Animal Connections: Our Journey Together. Families visiting the exhibit will explore the vast bonds between people and animals and learn about the important role veterinarians play in protecting animal and human health.
For further information, Contact: 

Christina Lood 

Betsy Rado
Bader Rutter

1 The International EPD System. Environmental product declaration for IMPROVAC. Available at:  http://gryphon.environdec.com/data/files/6/8456/epd261.pdf. Accessed February 25, 2012.
2J Environ Assess Pol Mgt 2013;15(1):(26 pages).



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