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Farm animal welfare is rising up the business agenda

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The second report of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare published today (10 December 2013) has applauded Coop Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer, Arla, Marfrig, Royal FrieslandCampina, Sainsbury’s, VION and Waitrose for the notable improvements they have made in their farm animal welfare related management and reporting approach over the past year.

The Benchmark assessed 70 leading companies from across Europe and the USA, representing food retailers and wholesalers, restaurants and bars (including food service providers) and food producers and manufacturers.

It places them in one of six tiers according to their approach to managing farm animal welfare across three pillars: Management Commitment and Policy, Governance and Policy Implementation and Leadership and Innovation.

The Report shows that over half (56%) of the companies reviewed in 2013 had published formal farm animal welfare policies (compared to 46% in 2012) and 41% (compared with just 26% in 2012) had published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare.

The Report identified a group of seven companies that have carved out a clear leadership position in reporting farm animal welfare policies:

  • The Coop Group (Switzerland)
  • Marks & Spencer
  • The Co-operative Food (UK)
  • J Sainsbury
  • Marfrig
  • Noble Foods
  • Unilever

Programme Director, Nicky Amos, observed:  “While 71% of food companies acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue, almost half have yet to formalise their approach to managing the issue. This indicates that farm animal welfare is lagging behind other issues on the corporate responsibility agenda.”

Commenting on the success of the Report, Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming, said: “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.”

Mark Atherton-Ranson, Agriculture Sourcing and Animal Welfare Manager, Marks & Spencer plc said: “At M&S the Benchmark has become a key tool in driving improvements in our farm animal welfare reporting approach. For instance, the M&S farm animal welfare policy and animal welfare charter on our website were revised last year to address the specific comments raised in the first BBFAW report about M&S. We intend to use the annual Benchmark as a means of providing further clarity on our animal welfare requirements and activities for the benefit of our consumers and investors.”

The Business Benchmark will repeat its assessment of food companies in August 2014 and will publish its findings in late 2014.

The Benchmark report 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).

For more information, please visit the BBFAW website.