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Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare 2016

News Section Icon Published 1/23/2017

28 US Food Companies Among 99 Benchmarked on Farm Animal Welfare

NEW YORK (Jan. 23, 2017) - Today, the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) released its comprehensive annual report on corporate commitment to animal welfare  at a stakeholder launch event hosted by global investment corporation Morgan Stanley. Of the 99 companies reviewed in the report, 28 are based in the United States.

Food processor and manufacturer Cargill joins McDonald’s in occupying a leadership position in the Benchmark’s second tier (out of 6 tiers). Wendy’s and Sysco have advanced one tier since 2016, joining Subway, Tyson, Walmart, and Hormel in Tier 3. Newly-merged Kraft-Heinz was evaluated for the first time and occupies the sixth, and lowest, tier.

Now in its fifth year, the BBFAW provides an annual review of how the world’s leading food companies manage and report on  risks and opportunities associated with farm animal welfare. The Benchmark is based on information published by the company at the time of assessment.

This year’s report, which is compiled in collaboration with leading animal welfare organizations Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, as well as investment firm Coller Capital, reveals that companies are devoting more attention and resources to farm animal welfare within their supply chains. Examples of this shift include:

  • 76% of US companies have now published farm animal welfare policies (compared to just 46% of all companies assessed in 2012);
  • 66% of US companies have published targets on farm animal welfare (up from 26% of all companies assessed in 2012); and
  • Compared to other markets, US companies have shown the greatest improvement in overall performance, rising from an average score of 29% in 2015 to 36% in 2016—a significant increase compared to marginal increases in average scores for UK companies (48% to 51%) and European companies (27% to 29%) in the same period.

Thirteen companies currently occupy leadership positions in the Benchmark’s top two tiers, reserved for companies that demonstrate strong commitments to farm animal welfare and have established management systems and processes.

“We congratulate companies in Tiers 1 and 2 for their exemplary approach to farm animal welfare management and disclosure,” said Nicky Amos, BBFAW Executive Director. “Their leadership is encouraging more companies to formalize their commitments on animal welfare and improve their reporting practices.”

Amos also noted that: “Despite this progress, 42 of the 99 companies—including Restaurant Brands International, Domino’s Pizza Group Plc, and Starbucks Corporation—appear in Tiers 5 and 6, which demonstrates that there is still much work to be done to get farm animal welfare on the business agenda of many large global food companies.”

The Benchmark aims to progressively increase corporate emphasis on performance measurement and reporting of several key animal welfare areas, such as the proportion of animals that are free from intensive confinement.

“We have seen a considerable increase in disclosure from US food companies on their animal welfare policies,” said Rachel Dreskin, US Head of Food Business for Compassion in World Farming. “In the coming years, we expect to see more focus on progress reporting and the impact that these policies are having on the animals.”

The report also highlights the important role of institutional investors in driving improvements in practice and process across the food industry. As the influence of global investment companies continues to grow, the BBFAW serves as an increasingly essential tool to provide investors with the objective, year-on-year performance assessment necessary to understand the business implications of farm animal welfare.

“The Benchmark shows that investors are key agents of change,” said Rory Sullivan, BBFAW Advisor. “They are sending a clear signal that they expect food companies to effectively manage the systemic risks and opportunities posed by farm animal welfare, and it is clear that companies are responding to these expectations.”



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