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The importance of food provenance and welfare

News Section Icon Published 06/03/2013

The recent horsemeat scandal has raised obvious issues of food provenance, consumer trust and the need for greater transparency and traceability in the supply chain. Regardless of what anyone eats, we need to know what we are eating, where our food is from and how it was produced.


In the drive for cheaper food, processed meat products can pass through multiple channels, across different countries, making it very difficult for food companies to manage supply chain compliance effectively and the traceability of the food they sell.

As consumers become increasingly interested in the provenance of their food and the welfare of animals used in food production, we expect more companies to seek to improve their management, reporting and communication on farm animal welfare, working with suppliers that share the same values and welfare commitments.

Giving consumers an informed choice

All food should be labelled correctly so that consumers can make informed choices about the food they eat.

We know that consumers are willing to pay more for higher welfare products if they can be confident of where their food comes from and the animal welfare standards used. We also know that clear labelling of higher welfare products can lead to an uptake in sales, which is a clear opportunity for food businesses.

Compassion is calling for real transparency in food labelling – to include simple and clear country of origin and method of production labelling on all animal produce and ingredients within the European Union – to allow for greater transparency and to give consumers the ability to choose higher welfare foods.

Benchmarking welfare performance

With the need for greater supply chain compliance and traceability becoming more evident recently, a timely, new framework which standardises how food companies report on farm animal welfare has been launched.

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 primarily as a tool for use by investors that can influence corporate policy. Its aim is not only to improve corporate reporting on farm animal welfare but also to contribute to improvements in the welfare practices and performance of food companies.

Driven by a range of factors, including regulation, consumer concern, client demand, business risks, and the brand and market opportunities for companies that adopt higher farm animal welfare standards, the treatment of the farm animals involved in food production is growing in importance. The Benchmark report (PDF) highlights that some food companies are leading the way and taking action to improve performance in this area – but there’s still a long way to go.

To find out more, visit


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