Smithfield Foods

Smithfield CEO thinks the future will be awesome

April 17, 2012: 9:49 PM ET

Sure, there are going to be challenges in food production. But the CEO of the world's largest pork processor is excited to take them on.

FORTUNE -- Green conferences can get a little glum. With climate change, shrinking resources, and a growing global population, CEOs face serious, often frightening challenges over meeting business goals without trashing the planet.

But Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope ended his panel at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference with a much brighter message. "There are many people painting a picture of doom and gloom," he said, "but I believe industry, government, and NGOs are working closer together. I think it's a wonderful future. I wish I was 15 years old again."

Pope nodded to the fact that it might seem strange to some that the CEO of a company that processes roughly 30 million hogs per year would be sitting in front of an eco-friendly audience.  But he claims he's made moves towards sustainability at Smithfield that have even pitted him against some people in the industry.

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