Today (16th March) sees the launch of the tenth annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW).
10 years of progress
The BBFAW - supported by founding partner Compassion in World Farming and supporting partner FOUR PAWS - provides an annual review of how the world’s leading food companies are managing and reporting their farm animal welfare policies, practices and performance.
Over the past 10 years, companies have made significant progress – of the 150 companies covered by the Benchmark:
134 companies (89%) now acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue (compared to 71% of the 68 companies evaluated in 2012),
122 companies (81%) have formal policies on farm animal welfare (compared to 46% of companies in 2012)
119 companies (79%) have published formal objectives and targets for animal welfare (compared to just 26% of companies in 2012).
Driving change through BBFAW
Over the span of the BBFAW’s lifetime, Compassion’s engagement with food companies evaluated in the annual benchmark has enabled key partners to excel. We have worked closely with 86 of the 150 companies assessed, supporting them with policy development, welfare improvement and transparent reporting.
Of those 86 companies, 7 have risen 3 tiers, 22 have risen 2 tiers and one company in particular - Premier Foods - has progressed an impressive four tiers in recent years, moving into Tier 1 this year. Their journey is testimony to their commitment to improving animal welfare, using the BBFAW as a framework for their development and ensuring their policies and practices drive clear, measurable change with public reporting.
The top tier companies in the latest Benchmark include Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Noble Foods and Premier Foods, which is impressive given the changes to the 2021 methodology which has placed further emphasis on companies’ performance reporting and impact (45% of the total score compared to 35% in 2020).
Read the full report below.
Find out the results of the 2021 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.
Despite the progress that has been made over the past 10 years, more needs to be done to demonstrate delivery of welfare improvements for animals on the ground, as indicated by the new BBFAW Impact Rating introduced this year, ranking companies A to F on the 10 performance impact questions.
Only five companies – Greggs PLC, Marks & Spencer PLC, Noble Foods, Premier Foods PLC, and Waitrose – achieved a ‘B’ Impact Rating in 2021, indicating that they are declaring improved welfare for a significant proportion of farm animals in their global supply chains, but none of the evaluated companies achieved an ’A’ Impact Rating.
Greggs is the only company with an impact rating of ‘B’ in Tier 2. Their approach to solid year-on-year improvement has led to them going free range on all their eggs, signing up to the Better Chicken Commitment and developing a transparent policy on the Responsible use of Antibiotics in their supply.
Philip Lymbery, Global CEO at Compassion in World Farming, said: “A decade on, it’s great to see BBFAW continue to deliver against its mission and make great progress in getting companies to invest in animal welfare. Yet, it’s disappointing that these policy commitments are not delivering meaningful improvements for animals as quickly as they should.
“Our focus now must be on ensuring that companies across the globe really do drive forward and deliver substantial and measurable welfare improvements for farm animals. This means making significant progress in their supply chains: for example, moving away from keeping animals in confinement systems such as cages and crates, and towards more humane and sustainable husbandry practices, to help create a food system that works for animals, people, and the planet.”
2021 Sub-sector Comparison
The 2021 Benchmark covers 150 global food companies, comprising 53 food retailers and wholesalers, 63 food producers, and 34 restaurants and bars.
The overall average score for Retailers and Wholesalers is 32% (36% in 2020), compared with an average score of 27% for Restaurants and Bars (31% in 2020), and 35% for Producers and Manufacturers (38% in 2020). Relative scores have not changed, with Producers and Manufacturers achieving a higher overall average score than the other two sub-sectors.
Company performance across the five regions covered by the BBFAW (Asia Pacific, Europe excluding the UK, Latin America, North America; and the UK) is similar to 2020, with UK domiciled companies achieving the highest overall average score across all regions at 59% (64% in 2020).
The second highest-scoring region was Europe (excluding the UK), which achieved an overall average score of 36% (40% in 2020).
The overall average score for companies in Latin America was 31% (32% in 2020) compared to 25% for companies in North America (29% in 2020). This is the second consecutive year that Latin America has outperformed the overall average score for companies in North America.
The overall average score for companies in Asia Pacific was 14% (15% in 2020).
The 2021 Benchmark doubled down on companies’ Performance Reporting and Impact’ by increasing the weighting of the questions in this section from 35% to 45% of the total score available.
This increased focus on impact (along with other changes in the methodology) resulted in 36 companies dropping a tier. However, given the scale of changes introduced in 2021, it is noteworthy that six companies - including Premier Foods who moved up into Tier 1 - improved their score sufficiently to increase their ranking by one tier.
The most widely reported performance impact data relates to cage-free production for laying hens – where 88 companies (59%) report some data, however, only 23 companies (15%) report that 60% or more of the laying hens in their global supply chains are cage-free.
Nicky Amos, Executive Director of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare and Managing Director of Chronos Sustainability concluded: “The BBFAW set out in 2012 to put farm animal welfare on the business and investor agenda and to significantly advance corporate management practice and disclosure on the issue. Ten years on, these objectives have been realised.
“Today, around 80% of the 150 companies assessed by BBFAW have strengthened their governance of farm animal welfare through formal policy commitments, objectives and targets. While this provides a strong foundation for action, companies need to demonstrate that their investments in farm animal welfare are delivering positive welfare impacts for animals on the ground.”
In 2022, there will be a substantial review of the BBFAW assessment criteria to ensure it is focused on the most effective areas for driving change for a future-fit food system:
to ensure that all farmed animals experience a good quality of life and positive welfare states
to significantly reduce the number of animals farmed for food
to reduce our reliance on animal sourced foods
Companies, investors, NGOs and other stakeholders will be consulted on the proposed changes.
The timing of the 2022 Benchmark assessments (usually conducted in August through September) are likely to be delayed until the first quarter of 2023 to allow sufficient time for the review process and consultation with companies, investors and other stakeholders.
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