Retailers continue to dominate in the top tier ranking of the sixth annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), launched today at the London Stock Exchange.
Co-op Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer, Migros and Waitrose – together with producer, Cranswick – retain their reputation as global leaders on farm animal welfare, however, the foodservice sector has showed the most improvement in its overall performance. In previous years it has significantly lagged behind, but in the 2017 Report, foodservice has successfully closed the gap on the retailer and producer sectors.
Reflecting on these findings, BBFAW Executive Director, Nicky Amos, said: “The most significant change relative to the 2016 Benchmark is the dramatically improved performance of the restaurants and bars sector. Our discussions with companies in the sector suggest that this improvement is being driven by increased client and consumer interest in farm animal welfare, and by NGO, media and investor pressure on these companies to make public commitments on specific animal welfare issues (e.g. on cage-free eggs, on broiler chicken welfare, on reductions in the use of antibiotics).”
Now in its sixth year, the Benchmark which is supported by leading animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, and investment firm, Coller Capital shows that many of the 110 global food companies (11 more than in 2016) covered by the Benchmark are integrating farm animal welfare into their management and reporting processes.
- 110 companies across 18 countries were included in the 2017 assessment; 11 more than in 2016.
- 26 of the 110 companies benchmarked have moved up at least one tier in the league table since 2016.
- The average score across all companies in the 2017 Benchmark was 37%, compared to 34% in 2016 and 26% in 2012.
- The foodservice sector’s average score rose from 27% in 2016 to 34% while the retailer & wholesaler and producer & manufacturer sub-sectors saw their respective scores stand at 37% and 38% (versus 36% and 39% respectively in 2016).
- 47% of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare.
- 72% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.
- 40 retailers and wholesalers were benchmarked with 8 companies moving up at least one tier in the league table.
- 30 food service/catering businesses were benchmarked with 11 moving up at least one tier in the league table.
- 40 producers and manufacturers were benchmarked with 7 moving up at least one tier in the league table.
Seventeen companies occupy leadership positions in the Benchmark’s top two tiers. These companies demonstrate strong commitments to farm animal welfare and have established management systems and processes to help deliver on their welfare commitments. They include Coop Group (Switzerland), Cranswick, Marks & Spencer, Migros and Waitrose in Tier 1.
In Tier 2 for the second-year running are BRF, Cargill, The Co-operative Food (UK), Greggs, Tesco, Unilever and McDonald’s. Danish Crown, J Sainsbury, and JBS join the Tier for the first time, climbing one place from Tier 3, and US-based Perdue Farms joins the Tier as a new company to the BBFAW in 2017. Noble Foods also appears in Tier 2 having dropped moved down from Tier 1.
Eight companies have dropped one tier, including: Edeka Group, Ferrero, Mars Inc, New Hope Group, Noble Foods, Subway, Sysco Corporation and Wendy’s Corporation.
The Benchmark provides a solid framework for companies on which to build and improve their performance. However, there is still much work to be done as the overall average score (at 37%) remains fairly low, and 41 out of 110 companies still appear in Tiers 5 and 6, indicating that they provide little or no information on their approach to farm animal welfare.
The report also highlights the increasingly important role being played by institutional investors in driving improvements in practice and process across the food industry.
Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to BBFAW noted: “It is clear that farm animal welfare is moving from the farm gates to the boardroom. Increasingly, food companies see farm animal welfare as a core risk and a strategic issue, featuring alongside issues such as climate change, water and public health. Despite this, 41 of the 110 companies covered by the Benchmark – a group which includes household names such as Kraft Heinz, Mars Inc. and Starbucks provide very limited information on their approach to farm animal welfare.”
Compassion in World Farming’s CEO, Philip Lymbery added: “I am encouraged by the growing number of companies embracing animal welfare and making it a priority in their business, and I’m particularly pleased by the step change in attitude from within the restaurants and bars sector this year, which has traditionally lagged behind the retailer and manufacturing sectors. Pressure from consumers, investors, the media and NGOs, is shining a spotlight on farm animal welfare, forcing it up the corporate agenda. I congratulate those companies responding positively and encourage those yet to meet the challenge to start taking action for farm animals in their supply.”
To find out more about the Benchmark visit www.bbfaw.com.