Frequently Asked Questions about Compassion and the Food Business Team
Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards
Compassion and the Food Business Team
We have approximately 1.1m global supporters.
Although 80% of our work is focused in the European Union, we are spreading our influence internationally through engaging with intergovernmental organisations like the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and by our growing number of international representatives (e.g. in US, China and South Africa).
Through our Food Business engagement programme, we work with biggest food companies across Europe that can have the biggest impacts on farm animal welfare. We are also expanding our Food Business programme in the US and China.
By working in partnership with other NGO’s we are able to extend the reach of our programme across the globe. (E.g. Compassion has worked in partnership with RSPCA Australia and SPCA New Zealand to run the Good Egg Awards locally, to recognise the achievements of food companies in these countries.)
The aim of the Food Business programme is to raise baseline standards of farm animal welfare in commercial food production systems. We therefore engage and work in partnership with leading food manufacturers, food service businesses and retail chains because they can positively impact the largest number of animals in their supply chains. We also recognise small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and public sector organisations for the work they do in the field of farm animal welfare.
We have found that by building a trusting, supportive relationship, we can influence companies’ policies and practices more effectively than by simply criticising them. It’s fair to say that at times the dialogue can be constructively critical and challenging but always focused on finding mutually beneficial outcomes that improve welfare for farm animals.
Compassion is focused on addressing animal welfare holistically. Not only are the animal’s health and physical wellbeing important, but also their mental wellbeing and ability to express their natural behaviours. We work with food companies to improve welfare standards for key species such as laying hens, meat chickens, pigs, rabbits and dairy cows and calves, from farm to slaughter.
- Partnership on developing welfare policies to help raise the baseline standards of farm animal welfare
- Professional resources, advice and technical support on farm animal welfare
- Marketing and communications activity support
- Access to a wide network of international contacts and business opportunities
Compassion has developed a unique, positive engagement approach to working with the food industry, to help drive continuous welfare improvements across the supply chain, and to communicate the benefits of farm animal welfare to the consumer.
We focus solely on the welfare of farm animals in the food supply chain and offer expertise and focus in this area. We do not accept any payment from food companies for our technical advice and consultancy.
We also work positively with World Animal Protection, RSPCA, Sustain, WWF, Friends of the Earth, Soil Association and other NGOs, in partnership on specific projects, contributing to consultations and their campaigns.
We encourage food companies to take ownership and to have responsibility for farm animal welfare in their supply chains by making welfare a key part of their CSR strategy. We want them to adopt higher welfare policies as part of a continuous improvement programme, across species, across brands, or across different business regions, with the ultimate goal of introducing global welfare policies.
We also encourage food companies to communicate their animal welfare policies and commitments not only to the consumer through channels such as their websites, but also through their CSR programmes etc., so that wider interested bodies can see what they are doing to improve farm animal welfare across their businesses.
Price can be an issue for the consumer, however, the price differential for eggs and dairy is relatively low between standard production systems and higher welfare production systems. For meat products the differential tends to be a little bit higher but we believe it is important for companies to communicate their welfare commitments to consumers so that they understand why welfare is important and are aware of the benefits, to help build consumer acceptance around paying more for higher welfare standards.
What is the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare?
BBFAW is an independent programme developed and supported by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.
It is the first structured benchmark of the world’s leading food companies (retailers, food producers, and bars and restaurants) and provides an objective account of the state of farm animal welfare as a business issue. It is designed to improve corporate reporting on farm animal welfare management policies, practices, processes and performance.
The Benchmark provides clear guidance on the sort of information that companies should report, and enables responsible investors and other stakeholders to clearly differentiate between those companies that do a good job and those that do not address their risks in this area. It also gives food companies a benchmark on where they sit in the welfare sphere and the performance standards they should be seeking to achieve.
The ultimate aim is for companies to be transparent and report on their farm animal welfare policies and performance as many already do as part of their environmental and social responsibility programmes.
Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards
The Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards are designed to recognise market leading food businesses for their current policies or commitments that result in positive impacts on farm animal welfare across their supply chains. We also recognise small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and public sector organisations for the work they do in the field of farm animal welfare.
We award companies throughout the entire food sector (retailers, manufacturers, food service) that are committed to implementing substantial policy changes and making progress in their sourcing of meat, eggs and dairy produce, by working collaboratively with us to meet a species-specific set of welfare criteria.
We have run our flagship scheme, the Good Egg Award, since 2007 to celebrate companies that source only cage-free eggs. We have now expanded the scheme by launching the Good Chicken Award in 2010, the Good Dairy Award in 2011, the Good Pig Award in 2012 and the Good Rabbit Award in 2015.
We also run our Retailer Awards every two years which are driven by the results of our biennial European Supermarket Survey.
In the past we have recognised companies for their leadership in specific geographies or species, for example with the Rabbit Innovation Award in 2013.
In 2015 we also presented a Special Recognition Award to Knorr.
The welfare criteria have been developed based on scientific evidence and best practice. Winners must have either a current policy or make a commitment to meet species-specific criteria across defined food categories, and 100% of their supply chain, within 5 years of receiving the award. Click here to find out more.
All the retailers that take part in our biennial Supermarket Survey are automatically considered for the retailer awards.
The Supermarket Survey comprises surveys for broilers, laying hens, sows and meat pigs, dairy cows and calves, and the company’s overall approach to farm animal welfare.
Retailers are scored on their answers to questions detailing their policies, rearing conditions of the animals, as well as transport, slaughter and the measurement of key welfare indicators.
Retailers are benchmarked anonymously against their industry peers using the highest and lowest percentage scores for each area of performance to maintain confidentiality. Retailers receive a bespoke feedback report on their performance with detailed recommendations to help them progress and manage welfare in their supply chains more effectively.
The Best Retailer Award goes to the supermarket with the highest overall score in the Supermarket Survey.
The Best Retailer Innovation Award is presented to the retailer that provides the best example(s) of innovative work to improve farm animal welfare in their supply chain, as part of their Supermarket Survey submission. The winners’ submissions for this award are assessed by a panel of judges (including Compassion staff and external stakeholders) and are each awarded points for specific parameters which include the severity of the welfare issue addressed, the potential scale of the impact, as well as the level of involvement from the retailer.
The Best Retailer Marketing Award is presented to the retailer that provides the best example(s) of work to communicate farm animal welfare to the consumer and to promote food products from higher welfare systems, as part of their Supermarket Survey submission. The winners’ submissions in this category are assessed by a panel of judges and are each awarded points for the type of media, the potential consumer reach, the strength of the welfare messaging used.
Special Recognition Awards are given to companies that demonstrate outstanding innovation, commitment or achievement in a particular area of farm animal welfare. This includes:
- Innovation: new research into, and/or implementation of, scalable solutions to address specific welfare issues
- Commitment: a notable, transparent, detailed commitment, on which the company will publicly report within a clear timeframe, to significantly improving the level of welfare in its supply chain
- Achievement: an industry-leading achievement in improving farm animal welfare
- This is likely to differ from our species-specific awards in one or more of the following ways:
- Broader level of commitment (across multiple species, and/or at a global level)
- Outside of the scope of the awards (different species, or issues, than those covered by the GFAWAs)
- Provides solutions to a key welfare issue (e.g. tail docking/tail biting; castration of pigs; beak trimming of laying hens)
Special Recognition Awards are given at the discretion of the Food Business team, in the context of their knowledge of farm animal welfare issues and industry progress to address these. The criteria for presenting a Special Recognition Award include:
- Scale: the number of animals benefitting, and with the potential to benefit, from the company’s actions
- Level of impact: taking into account the severity of the welfare issue(s) addressed
- Communication: whether the company is actively communicating on their current or planned actions, and therefore whether this is likely to positively influence wider industry
Special Recognition Awards will usually be a result of a prolonged and proactive engagement with the Food Business team, particularly in the area in which the award is given. They are one-off awards that give recognition in a single year; they are not valid in perpetuity and companies must make clear the year of the award in any public communications. The Food Business team will continue to engage with the company to ensure maximum impact for animals as a result of its innovation, commitment or achievement.
Scale: When a multinational moves just one part of its business to higher welfare, the scale of change can be vast and benefit millions of animals.
Influence: Multinationals have enormous brand power and can bring better welfare to millions of animals every day. It sends a very strong message to other companies and forces them to compete. They can also act at a European and global level, unlike some smaller companies which has an even greater impact on farm animal welfare.
Progression: When we award a company it generally leads to more positive welfare changes in other areas of their business and their actions are often then echoed by their peers, creating market shifts across the industry in favour of food products from higher welfare systems.
We award commitments as well as current policy because we believe in celebrating what a company is working towards, as well as what it is currently doing to improve farm animal welfare in its supply chain. Commitments are usually as a result of engaging and working with Compassion, so it is also our way of recording our impact.
The aim of the Food Business programme is to effect change on a large scale which is why we target the biggest, most influential food companies that can have a positive impact on the biggest number of farm animals. We encourage those companies to make higher welfare policy commitments and then work closely with them to assist implementation.
We have a process in place for ensuring companies meet their commitments on time and in many cases, companies reach their commitments ahead of time. Often, it can take a company years’ to put the necessary supply in place due to the size of their organisation, which is why we have allocated up to five years as a phase-in period for the awards.
Yes. If a company reneges on the clear criteria set for their award we will publically withdraw that award. This was the case, for example, with The Co-operative in the UK. We withdrew their Good Chicken Award in March 2014 as they no longer met the stocking density criteria for the award. Withdrawing an award is the last resort, after much work to try and keep the welfare improvement plan in place.
We will withdraw an award whether it is a current policy or a commitment-based award – i.e. if the company changes either what they do as part of their current policy or what they have committed to doing in the future. If a company needs a longer time period to fulfil its commitment then we will continue our engagement with them to help them achieve their goal.
If a company reneges on their award commitments, and we withdraw their award, we will publicly announce this on our website and it may be accompanied by a press release on the subject. In addition, we may ask our supporters to encourage the business to keep its original promise (as we did with The Co-op). Usually, we will have reasonable advance notice of a company reneging, as we always aim to maintain dialogue with our award winners to confirm they are on track, and to support them to improve in other areas.
The awards are given based on a company achieving, or committing to achieve, a set of welfare criteria for a specific species (i.e. laying hens, broiler chickens, dairy cows and calves, pigs and rabbits). Sometimes we may become aware of other areas of the organisation’s operations or supply chain where animal welfare falls considerably short of the industry norm. In such cases, we seek to work with the company to improve those welfare standards. We would not take back an award unless the poor welfare relates directly to the specific set of criteria upon which the award was based. We are however mindful of the potential risk to Compassion’s brand in extreme cases and therefore in exceptional circumstances may consider withdrawing or suspending an award.
Winning an award can yield significant business benefits and most forward thinking companies realise they can’t do everything on their own and they don’t need to have all the answers themselves.
Strategic partnerships with organisations such as Compassion can help food businesses learn faster and develop better welfare solutions.
The awards are a great way for companies to:
- Exceed farm animal welfare legislation
- Show that their policies are aligned with their brand values
- Advance corporate social responsibility
- Manage risk by having greater transparency and traceability in their supply chain
- Meet the growing consumer demand for higher welfare products and increase brand loyalty
We encourage companies to maximise these commercial benefits by supporting higher welfare production systems and by promoting higher welfare products to consumers which can help:
- Promote and boost sales of higher welfare foods
- Demonstrate leadership as an ethical organisation
- Raise the importance of farm animal welfare across the food industry
- Increase consumer confidence in a company’s brand
- Raise staff morale by association of working for an ethical company