Launched today, the seventh annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, supported by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, confirms Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Cranswick, Noble Foods and Co-op Group (Switzerland), as global leaders on farm animal welfare.
However, while many of the 150 companies (up from 110 last year) now covered by the Benchmark, have adopted farm animal welfare policies and implemented farm animal management systems, the majority provide limited or no information on their farm animal welfare performance.
Commenting on the overall findings, Nicky Amos, Executive Director of BBFAW noted: “Company practice continues to show consistent year on year improvement. For example, 53% of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare and 71% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.
However, these encouraging findings on management processes are not matched by performance; for example, while just over half of companies report on the proportion of animals that are free from close confinement, only one in four companies covered by the Benchmark provides any information on the proportion of animals that are stunned prior to slaughter and only one in five companies reports on live animal transport times.”
The performance gap continued to close between the different sectors again this year, with the average scores for the Retailers & Wholesalers sector and the Restaurants & Bars sector both being 32%, and the average score for the Producer & Manufacturer sector standing slightly lower at 31%.
- 150 companies across 23 countries were included in the 2018 assessment
- 19 companies have moved up at least one tier in the league table since 2017, with 12 companies moving down.
- 52 companies were benchmarked in the Retailer & Wholesaler sector in 2018 (including 13 new entrants), with 7 companies moving up at least one tier in the league table.
- 63 companies were benchmarked in the Producers & Manufacturers sector in 2018 (including 23 new entrants), with 8 companies moving up at least one tier in the league table.
- 35 companies were benchmarked in the Restaurants & Bars sector in 2018 (including 7 new entrants), with 4 companies moving up at least one tier in the league table.
- UK companies achieved a significantly higher overall average score (61%) compared to companies from other geographic areas, including North America (28%) and Europe, excluding the UK,(34%).
In the 2018 Benchmark, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Cranswick and Coop Group (Switzerland), retain their Tier 1 position, while Cargill, Co-op Food (UK), Sainsbury's, Greggs, Tesco, Unilever and Perdue Farms have retained their Tier 2 position.
12 companies have dropped one tier. These include: Ahold Delhaize, BRF, Danish Crown, Dean Foods, General Mills, JBS, Kaufland, McDonald’s, Migros, Subway, Sysco Corp and Walmart.
In line with the BBFAW’s objective to drive improvements in the welfare of animals farmed for food, the weighting of the performance reporting and impact questions in the 2018 Benchmark was increased to 35% of the total score (up from 24% in 2017).
While the overall average score at 32% is down from 37% in 2017, this is not unexpected with the introduction of 40 new companies and this increased weighting of the performance reporting.
Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to the BBFAW noted: “Investors need to have confidence that companies are delivering the outcomes that they aspire to, in terms of improved farm animal welfare and in terms of better business risk management. The Benchmark exposes the gap between policies and performance, highlighting those companies whose governance processes work effectively and those that are not fit for purpose in a world where farm animal welfare is an increasingly important driver of business value.”
Philip Lymbery, CEO at Compassion in World Farming commented: “The Benchmark and the investors supporting it have played a key role in keeping farm animal welfare firmly on the corporate agenda. As this year’s report shows, we need to ensure that this attention delivers real and concrete benefits for animals farmed for food.”
BBFAW is a tool for change
The Benchmark is a long-term change initiative which is showing good signs of progress. Of the 55 food companies that have been continuously benchmarked since 2012, 17 (31%) have moved up one Tier, 20 (36%) have moved up two Tiers and 8 (15%) have moved up three Tiers. Furthermore, the average score for these trend companies has improved from 25% in 2012 to 48% in 2018.
These improvements are even more striking given the tightening of the Benchmark criteria over time and those companies in the top tiers should be congratulated.
Compassion is pleased to have worked in depth on the animal welfare policies, practices and performance of 11 of the 19 companies that have improved their tier ranking this year.
Their success demonstrates that BBFAW is driving higher farm animal welfare standards across the world’s leading food businesses and while there is still much work to be done, there is both an appetite and a will for change.
To find out more about the Benchmark visit www.bbfaw.com.