Importance of animal welfare highlighted in annual report
Published:  26 January, 2016

Businesses in the food sector are becoming more aware of the importance of displaying their animal welfare procedures, according to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report. 

The annual review, which has been compiled in collaboration with Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, alongside investment firm Coller Capital, provides information on how 90 of the world’s leading food companies manage and report their animal welfare policies and practices.

It was revealed that 69% of companies have published farm animal welfare policies, compared to just 46% in 2012. In addition, 54% of companies have published targets on farm animal welfare, up from 26% in 2012.

Noble Foods, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Coop Group (Switzerland) all attained the highest possible marks in the report, due out today (Tuesday 26 January 2016).

“The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare has proved again this year what a powerful driver for change it is,” said Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming’s chief executive.

“Leading food companies are not only acknowledging farm animal welfare as a critical business issue, but also reporting and improving upon it year on year,” he added.

“This vital tool is providing an objective movement towards a more honest and compassionate food industry, and we are delighted to be at the forefront of it.”

At the moment, 11 companies have made it onto the Benchmark’s top two tiers, demonstrating the strongest commitments to farm animal welfare. As well as the previously mentioned supermarkets that all made it into Tier 1, The Co-operative Food (UK), J Sainsbury, Unilever, Cranswick, Marfrig, McDonald’s and Migros all made it into Tier 2.

“The results show that it is realistic for companies across the world and in all sub-sectors (retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, bars and producers) to aspire to and achieve high scores in the Benchmark and to recognise the responsibility they hold for the welfare of animals in their supply chains,” commented Nicky Amos, BBFAW executive director.

However, even with the overall improvement made since 2012, approximately 40% of companies, which include Burger King, Domino’s Pizza Group (UK) and Starbucks, provide little or no information surrounding their approach to animal welfare.

“Despite the progress we are seeing, there is clearly much work to be done to get farm animal welfare on the business agenda of many large global food companies,” continued Amos.

The report also highlighted the growing influence of global investment companies on farm animal welfare. BBFAW assembled a global investor collaboration on farm animal welfare, which now has 18 investors representing over one trillion pounds in assets under management.

“For the first time we are seeing global investors actively engage with companies to encourage them to improve their practices and reporting on farm animal welfare,” said Rory Sullivan, BBFAW expert advisor.

“The annual Benchmark provides a strong incentive for companies to improve their disclosure and to account for their performance. As we build investor awareness and understanding of systemic risks and opportunities posed by farm animal welfare, we expect to see investor interest and, critically, action to increase over time.”