By Damian Finio, CFO – Phibro Animal Health
I’m the new guy. Not only new to Phibro, but also to the animal health industry after spending the vast majority of my career on the human side of health. I was drawn to Phibro because of the people and their purpose – Healthy Animals, Healthy Food, Healthy World.
As the grandson of a caterer, son of the best Italian cook I know, father to one daughter whose mission is to improve accessibility of healthier foods to rural communities, another daughter in college with sights on a legal career fighting for employee rights, and husband of a woman who has spent most of her career in human resources, it’s fair to say that food, nutrition, and people’s well-being have always been very important to me. Further, as a CFO navigating the economic impacts of a global pandemic while observing the social unrest in our country and across the world, I am ecstatic to be leading the ESG initiative at Phibro Animal Health. ESG – environmental, social and governance – encompasses all these experiences and pretty much everything I’m passionate about. At Phibro, we’re serious about ESG not because the public markets are demanding it, but because we want to be.
Soon after joining Phibro in October 2020, I started talking to my colleagues about the importance of ESG to our investor community and the innate alignment with our organization. There’s plenty of empirical data to support the fact that companies who score well on ESG improve financial performance over time. It makes a lot of sense — a well-run company with the appropriate level of checks and balances, that cares about its employees, its customers, and the impact its products have on the environment and the communities it serves – these are the characteristics of a company that’s focused on what’s important.
As these conversations played out, I was both pleased and impressed by the number of activities already underway at Phibro. Even without a formal ESG framework in place, these activities align perfectly with what ESG is all about: striving to make the world a better place.
As we invest more in companion animal products over the medium term, our portfolio remains focused on products that promote the health of food animals – livestock, poultry and aquaculture. The company recognized long ago that the health and well-being of animals, people and the planet are inextricably linked, and healthy animals enable sustainable futures. An animal that reaches its full potential offers the best return for farmers, consumers, and the environment.
On the social front, we are most proud of the long tenure of many of our employees. This reflects the fact that Phibro is a company that takes care of its employees, their families and the communities in which we operate. For example, Phibro-Brasil’s employee initiative Making a Difference carries out social actions locally. Their annual calendar includes activities such as the Warm Campaign which generates donations of blankets, clothes and food, toys and sporting equipment for underprivileged children, as well as entrepreneurship workshops (crafts, cooking) to promote a source of income for low-income families. They also support a community garden, donate company computers to teenagers’ institutions, and host a literary picnic, where employees read books to children.
From a governance perspective, it’s no secret that we are a closely held public company. In addition to being a majority shareholder, Jack Bendheim is also our President, CEO and Chairman of the Board – which doesn’t necessarily score well with ESG rating agencies. However, Jack, whose grandfather started the company in 1946, has been with Phibro for more than fifty years. He knows our business better than anyone. One key to his success is that he surrounds himself with other competent and experienced professionals who believe in the company’s purpose and match his level of passion. So, while we might not always score well from a rating agency’s perspective on governance, the company has been wellrun for years by people who make our values come to life.
Just recently, we formed the Phibro ESG Council, and I was honored when Jack asked me to act as the Council’s Chairman. The Council members and I are incredibly motivated. Of course, we’ll start by taking an inventory of the initiatives already underway. What’s most encouraging is the opportunity to build on our strong foundation with actions that will introduce new initiatives to bolster our existing ESG-related efforts. We are excited to share what we’re doing publicly. So, be on the lookout forPhibro’s first ever ESG Report in the not-so-distant future.
We‘re committed to ESG because it’s how we already operate, and we know it will ensure healthy animals, healthy food, and a healthy world.