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Retail still leads the way in animal welfare rankings – but foodservice is catching up

The retail sector has again dominated the top tier rankings of the annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare. Co-op Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer, Migros and Waitrose maintained their positions as global leaders on farm animal welfare.

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) is the globally recognised investor framework for assessing the quality of companies’ practices, processes and performance on farm animal welfare. It was founded in 2012 by leading animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection. In 2014, Coller Capital joined the BBFAW as an additional partner, and publishes its annual findings every spring.
The sector that showed most improvement in its overall performance was foodservice. In previous years it has significantly lagged behind the retailer & wholesale and producer & manufacturer sectors, but in the 2017 Report, the restaurants & bars sector successfully closed the gap.
British Food Producer, Cranswick, was the only producer to be listed in Tier 1. The foodservice sector’s average score rose from 27% in 2016 to 34% this year 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).
Nicky Amos, Executive Director of BBFAW said: “Perhaps 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).”
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. For example, 47% of these companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of
farm animal welfare, and 72% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.
However, 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.
A total of 40 producer and manufacturing companies from across Europe, the USA, Asia and Australasia were included in this year’s Benchmark with 25 non-movers, four new entries, seven producers rising at least one tier and four companies, Noble Foods, Ferrero, Mars and New Hope Group, falling a tier.
Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to BBFAW, said: “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.”

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