Yesterday, Compassion in World Farming held its Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards ceremony in Brussels, where major food companies gathered from across the globe to celebrate leadership in farm animal welfare.
There was a total of 50 awards this year, celebrating market-leading food businesses for their higher welfare policies and practices, which are set to improve the lives of over 39 million animals each year.
Compassion’s CEO, Philip Lymbery, opened the ceremony highlighting how the animal welfare movement has recently united on a European Citizen’s Initiative, securing well over the required 1 million signatures, calling for a total ban on the use of cages for all farm animals across Europe.
He talked about how the “production and consumption of meat, eggs and dairy need to change to be more in harmony with nature and our planetary limits” and the “need for more sustainable food systems”, recognising this year’s winners who are all doing their part for farm animal welfare and the wider sustainability agenda.
TV presenter, vet and author Emma Milne hosted the ceremony, saying: "I'm hugely honoured to have been asked to host this year's Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards. All the time we use animals for food it's essential that we keep striving to improve their welfare, not just in life but in death too. These awards recognise those companies who embrace this."
Compassion introduced a number of new award categories in 2019, including the Good Turkey Award (3 winners), Good Calf Award (3 winners), and the Sustainable Food and Farming Award (2 winners), which recognise companies that are taking steps to produce meat, dairy or eggs in ways that protect, improve and restore wildlife and the environment.
Poultry gets a boost!
This year, there were 25 awards in the poultry sector, including 11 Good Egg Awards, two Good Chicken Awards, three Good Turkey Awards, and nine awards in China for producers committing to higher welfare egg and chicken production.
Traditional Norfolk Poultry which supplies speciality poultry to retailers, foodservice and ready meal manufacturers picked up one of the first Good Turkey Awards for giving their birds a highly enriched, free range living environment.
Mark Gorton, Director, Traditional Norfolk Poultry said: “Our ethos is that of commitment to the birds’ welfare ensuring their life is as stress free and natural as possible. We are delighted to be recognised for our working practices and proud of our excellent quality of products.”
French retailer Monoprix deserves a special mention for its Good Chicken Award. Building on their policy to phase out fast growing breeds for their own-brand fresh chicken, Monoprix is the first French retailer to sign up to the European Chicken Commitment, and aims to meet the criteria for their own-label fresh chicken ahead of schedule, by 2024.
Compassion was particularly pleased to recognise specialist calf rearer, Buitelaar Group (UK) with a Good Calf Award for their work to address the welfare of dairy calves. The company specialises in the production of higher welfare, British rosé veal and beef. They have built a sustainable, integrated supply chain for dairy bull and beef cross calves which cannot be utilised for milking on the dairy farm. They have also been successful in reducing the unnecessary culling of calves from TB restricted herds by offering specialist government approved fattening units across the country.
Adam Buitelaar, Managing Director said: “The production of healthy, content calves is an imperative part of the supply chain and the team strive for the highest welfare standards possible in all aspects, so it really is an honour to receive recognition by Compassion in World Farming.”
We were delighted to present French manufacturer, Lapin & Bien, with a special Rabbit Innovation Award this year, for developing a cage-free system for rearing rabbits where they are housed in large pens with burrow-style areas, allowing them to hide and rest, and plenty of space to hop and play.
This year’s Cage-Free Award, which is kindly supported by the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, was awarded to baby food manufacturer, Ella’s Kitchen. Compassion presented them with this accolade for being entirely cage-free and in recognition of their ongoing commitment to high animal welfare standards.
In the pig category, Chipotle (USA) and Coop Sweden both picked up Good Sow Commendations for supporting the move to free-farrowing, and German companies Edeka (retailer) and Dokas (pet food manufacturer) received Good Rabbit Commendations, alongside Compass Group in France for their commitments to cage-free rabbit farming.
2019 saw the return of our Retailer Awards where Waitrose & Partners was named overall Best Retailer, beating competition from 27 other retailers from across Europe who entered this year’s Supermarket Survey.
Waitrose & Partners also picked up the Best Retailer Marketing Award for their consistent and high level consumer-facing communications on farm animal welfare, with their recent ‘Waitrose & Partners’ re-brand campaign. This is the second time they have received this award.
Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager at Waitrose & Partners, commented: “It’s a huge honour to receive these awards, and to win the Best Retailer once again is a particularly proud accomplishment.
"It takes a lot of passion, dedication and hard work to maintain the high standards we have become famous for over the past 30 years, and we owe a considerable amount to the longstanding relationships we have with our farmers for building that reputation. Without their loyalty and commitment, our pursuit and retention of such pioneering animal welfare standards would not be possible and we share these accolades with them.”
We were delighted to recognise leading French retailer, Casino with this year’s Best Retailer Innovation Award for launching the very first animal welfare labelling scheme in France - making it easier for consumers to make higher welfare choices and supporting farmers committed to higher welfare production.
Matthieu Riché, Director of the RSE at Casino said: “Our animal welfare labelling scheme is a collective innovation which has been co-built with 3 NGOs. Together we have developed a benchmark using 230 criteria to assess the level of animal welfare at all stages of a broiler chicken’s life. This award reinforces our ambition to promote animal welfare labelling at a national and a European level, and the scheme is open to all stakeholders.”
Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion said: “There is undoubtedly a major shift happening across the global food industry towards higher welfare, as market forces continue to shape the way we produce and eat our food. While change is being driven by consumer demand for animal welfare and the need to look after our planet, it is the food industry that is making this change a reality.
“I wholeheartedly congratulate this year’s Award winners and hope that others will follow in their footsteps, for the sake of our animals, our health and ultimately the health of our planet”.
Compassion’s Awards programme in China has continued to flourish, working alongside the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW), to recognise the higher welfare achievements of Chinese pig and poultry producers.
A total of 17 Chinese producers were recognised this year for the great work they are doing to improve the lives of pigs, hens and broiler chickens, through our China Production Awards.
There were eight Good Pig Production Award winners (with two five star winners), four Good Egg Production Award winners (of which two achieved five stars) and five Good Chicken Production Winners, with three achieving five stars.
President of ICCAW, Mr Ayongxi, was in Brussels to join in the celebrations and said: “The awards’ criteria has given Chinese companies a basis and method for achieving higher animal welfare and to date, 85 Chinese companies have been awarded by Compassion. This demonstrates that China's animal husbandry is aligning more with international standards, further developing our brand for higher welfare, higher quality products.
“These awards encourage Chinese producers to continue improving animal welfare and make continuous efforts for the harmonious development of people and society.”
In total, this year’s Chinese Award winners are set to benefit over 10.9 million farm animals every year.