The world’s leading food companies are lagging behind consumers on farm animal welfare issues
The recently published fourth edition of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) shows that companies, including Burger King and Starbucks could be putting animals at risk with little or no regard for animal welfare in their business models.
The BBFAW report, which we produce in collaboration with Compassion in World Farming and investment firm Coller Capital, is now in its fourth year and this year reviewed 90 global food companies. It is the first and only global measure of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment and disclosure in food companies; including major food retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, bars, and food producers.
Despite the overall progress made since the first published report in 2012, 40% of companies provide little or no information on their business operation for farm animal welfare – raising concerns about these companies’ basic welfare standards for animals in their supply chains. In addition to Burger King, Domino’s Pizza Group (UK) and Starbucks, this list includes Mars Inc and Müller.
Our CEO, Steve McIvor, said, “Farm animal welfare is riding high on the consumer agenda and we expect far higher standards for animals from the world’s leading food companies.
“With 70 billion animals farmed for food annually, poor animal welfare in industrial farming cannot be ignored. A better life for these animals relies upon global, large-scale changes across the industry.”
Leading the way
There is also good news from the report, which demonstrates that despite the poor performance of many companies, animal welfare is rising up the business agenda with another increase in the overall scores. 19 of the 90 companies improved their ranking by at least one tier in the report, a list that includes BRF who we have been working with to improve their standards and practices in farm animal welfare.
The companies leading the way are Marks & Spencer, Coop Group (Switzerland), Waitrose (UK) and Noble Foods, closely followed by companies that also demonstrate leadership on farm animal welfare practice and reporting such as McDonald’s and Unilever.
The influence of investors
The report highlights the growing influence of global investment companies on farm animal welfare and in particular cites the world’s first investor collaboration on farm animal welfare - convened by BBFAW - which now has 18 investors representing over one trillion pounds in assets under management.
Rory Sullivan, BBFAW expert advisor said, “For the first time we are seeing global investors actively engage with companies to encourage them to improve their practices and reporting on farm animal welfare.
The annual Benchmark provides a strong incentive for companies to improve their disclosure and account for their performance. As we build investor awareness and understanding of farm animal welfare, we expect to see investor interest and, critically, action, increase over time.”