Farm animal welfare rides high on the consumer agenda from cage-free hens to cows on grass, but this clearly is not translating to the business boardroom says the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare in its second Benchmark of the global food industry.
The Benchmark, which has been designed to encourage higher farm animal welfare standards across the food industry, covers 70 global food businesses, including major food retailers and wholesalers, restaurants and bars, and food producers.
The Benchmark found that while over 70% of these companies acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue, only 56% have published a formal farm animal welfare policy, just 39% describe how their board or senior management oversee their approach to farm animal welfare, and only 41% have published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare.
Rory Sullivan, expert advisor to the Business Benchmark comments, “A key conclusion to be drawn from the 2013 Benchmark is that farm animal welfare continues to be a business and reputational risk that many companies in the food industry are not effectively managing. The fact that over half of the companies covered by the Benchmark provide little or no information on their approach suggests that farm animal welfare remains an immature business issue.”
But there are encouraging signs. Programme Director, Nicky Amos, observed: “We have seen progress in three distinct areas:
· A general increase in the number of companies identifying farm animal welfare as a business issue. For example, we have seen a 10% rise (from 46% in 2012 to 56% in 2013) on the number of companies that have published formal farm animal welfare policies, and a 15% rise (from 26% in 2012 to 41% in 2013) in the number of companies that have published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare.
· Seven companies have carved out a clear leadership position in this area: Coop Group (Switzerland) and Marks and Spencer (the two top ranked companies) and The Co-operative Food (UK), J Sainsbury, Marfrig, Noble Foods and Unilever.
· Others that have demonstrated significant improvements over the past year include Gruppo Cremonini, Nestlé, Sodexo, Wal-Mart and Waitrose.”
The Benchmark has been produced with the expertise and support of leading animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming (Compassion) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
Philip Lymbery, CEO, Compassion in World Farming, says:
“The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare has played a catalytic role in putting farm animal welfare on the business agenda. It has pushed companies to acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue and, critically, it has forced them to take action.”
Mike Baker, CEO, World Society for the Protection of Animals, says:
“Animal welfare should play an integral part in basic food standards; I think we are seeing more demand from both consumers and regulators for this. The Benchmark’s effectiveness is demonstrated by the significant changes we have seen in company performance in the last year alone, and we hope that will continue year on year.”
1. The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) is the first global measure of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment and disclosure in food companies and is designed for use by investors, companies, NGOs and other stakeholders interested in understanding the relative performance of food companies in this area. The results of the first Benchmark, which assessed companies in August/September 2012, were released in February 2013, and the results of the second Benchmark, which assessed companies in August/September 2013, were released in December 2013. More information on the programme can be found at www.bbfaw.com.
2. The company-by-company results are presented in Attachment 1 to this release.
3. In total, 70 companies were included in the 2013 assessment. The companies represent the three primary food business sectors: (a) food retailers and wholesalers; (b) restaurants and bars (a category that includes many of the food service providers), and (c) food producers and manufacturers. The list includes listed and non-listed companies (private companies, partnerships and cooperatives).
4. Companies were measured on their approach to managing farm animal welfare in three areas: (1) Management Commitment and Policy, (2)Governance and Policy Implementation, and (3)Leadership and Innovation. The assessments were based on information published by companies.
5. Particularly noteworthy examples of good farm animal welfare practices by companies include:
· Marks and Spencer’s Animal Welfare Mission Statement provides information on the Company’s policy commitments, setting out the scope of the policy, the specific standards it works to, its expectations of farmers and other suppliers, and its approach to product labelling.
· Sainsbury’s is the UK’s largest retailer of Freedom Food products, selling over 60 per cent of all Freedom Food sold in the UK. Around 20 per cent of Sainsbury’s fresh chicken sales are from Freedom Food birds, involving ten million birds reared to higher independent welfare standards.
· Unilever has a dedicated Supplier Portal which provides guidance to suppliers on compliance with its Sustainable Agriculture Code. These include detailed implementation guides on Unilever’s Sustainable Livestock, Transport and Slaughter, Sustainable Agriculture Code and Dairy requirements.
· McDonald’s UK has responded to increased consumer curiosity about where food comes from by launching a search for ‘Quality Scouts’ - independent members of the public who can observe what goes into McDonald’s products and post their reports online.
· Yum! Group subsidiary, KFC, launched its ‘C is for Chicken’ website in early 2013 to engage consumers on its approach to farm animal welfare. The site includes FAQs and a series of videos and case studies involving customers and other third parties visiting production facilities and experiencing the Company’s welfare systems first hands.
6. The Business Benchmark will repeat its assessment of food companies in mid-2014 and will publish its findings in late 2014.
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from World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
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