Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare released

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), the leading global measure of policy commitment, performance and disclosure on animal welfare in food companies, has launched its eighth annual report today revealing that two of the six companies in the top Tier are producers or manufacturers.
calendar icon 2 April 2020
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The 2019 Benchmark, which analysed 150 global food companies and is supported by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection sees Cranswick and Noble Foods recognised as global leaders on farm animal welfare, alongside retailers Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Co-op Group (Switzerland) and Migros.

Beyond the individual company rankings, the 2019 Benchmark reports that 60 percent of the world’s leading food companies now have formal farm animal welfare policies and appropriate management processes for ensuring they are effectively deployed internally and throughout their supply chains. It cites consumer interest in farm animal welfare, coupled with positive momentum inside a majority of the world’s most influential food companies as key accelerators of year on year change. However, it warns that progress is still too slow with 40 percent of the 150 companies still appearing in the bottom tiers, providing little or no information about how they are managing the risks and opportunities associated with farm animal welfare.

Nicky Amos, Executive Director of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, said: “The 2019 findings demonstrate that the BBFAW continues to be an important driver of change. An increasing number of companies are using the annual benchmark to drive continuous improvement in farm animal welfare practices, performance and disclosure. However, it is clear there is a great deal more to do if farm animal welfare is to become institutionalised across the global food industry.”

She continued: “In 2019, the rise in consumer and investor interest, coupled with increasing pressure on suppliers from food companies signals a ‘perfect storm’ for moving the dial on farm animal welfare. The BBFAW’s 2019 company and investor surveys tell us that customer interest in animal welfare is the primary driver for business action for 79 percent of companies, while 82 percent of investors consider animal welfare to be an investment risk. Companies that fail to take responsibility for ensuring the welfare of animals farmed for food can expect heightened scrutiny from their business customers and partners, from investors, and from consumers.”

The report shows that the UK continues to lead the global food industry on farm animal welfare management, reporting and performance. UK companies achieved an average score of 64 percent compared to 40 percent for companies in Europe (excluding the UK) and 34 percent for all companies covered by the Benchmark, up from 32 percent in 2018.

In total, 63 producers and manufacturers with combined revenues of $500 billion were assessed in this year’s report, together with 52 retailers and wholesalers and 35 restaurants and bars.

Interestingly, both the producer and retailer sectors improved their average overall scores to 35 percent (from 31 percent and 32 percent respectively in 2018), while the restaurants and bars sector score has remained static at 32 percent. It is worth noting, however, that the restaurants and bars sector has historically lagged behind the retailer and producer sectors but between 2017 and 2018 it managed to successfully close the gap.

In terms of tier movement, 15 companies in the producers and wholesalers sector moved up at least one tier, including Nestlé, Premier Foods, Associated British Foods, Danish Crown AmbA/Tulip, Terrena Group and Hilton Food Group, five moved down one tier and included Unilever, KraftHeinz and Mondelez International, and there were 43 non movers including Mars, Müller Group, Hershey Co, Perdue Farms and Groupe Danone. There were no new entries in this sector.

The Benchmark is a long-term change initiative which is showing definite signs of progress. Of the 55 food companies that have been continuously benchmarked since 2012, 44 (80 percent) have moved up at least one tier. Further analysis shows that of these, 14 (25 percent) have moved up one tier, 18 (33 percent) have moved up two tiers and 12 (22 percent) have moved up three tiers.

Furthermore, the average score for these trend companies has improved from 25 percent in 2012 to 50 percent in 2019; the average for all companies in 2019 is 34 percent. These improvements are even more striking given the tightening of the Benchmark criteria over time and these companies should be congratulated.

Philip Lymbery, Global CEO at Compassion in World Farming, commented: “For the last eight years, the Benchmark has been instrumental in encouraging global food businesses to adopt new policies on farm animal welfare. Now, the onus is on companies demonstrating strong performance to implement these policies, by for example, making sure that cage-free systems are fit for purpose and delivered in a timely fashion.”

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