Compass, Aramark, and Panera show progress on farm animal welfare
Today, the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) releases its sixth annual report on corporate commitments to animal welfare. Of the 110 companies reviewed, 32 are based in the United States.
The 2017 Benchmark shows notable improvements from US companies such as Panera Bread, Aramark, and Compass Group, who all moved up at least one tier. Perdue Farms achieved an impressive tier two (out of six) ranking in its first year of assessment.
The BBFAW reviews how the world’s leading food companies publicly report on farm animal welfare management and performance. Food businesses are increasingly making animal welfare a priority through their published commitments to higher welfare practices and through the progress they are making against those commitments.
The Benchmark results show that 88% of US companies have now made formal policy commitments on farm animal welfare, a marked increase on the 76% in 2016. 91% of US companies have set objectives and targets on farm animal welfare. For example, many have made public commitments to cage-free eggs and the avoidance of sow stalls, and a rapidly increasing number have committed to improving broiler welfare standards in the US and Canada.
Rachel Dreskin, Head of US Food Business at CIWF, says: “It is encouraging to see animal welfare elevated as a priority for so many food businesses. However, as more companies move up in the Benchmark, the time has come when we must not only identify the shortcomings of the laggards, but also the responsibility of the leaders. We are specifically looking to the leaders to create and implement policies that truly and positively impact the lives of farmed animals.
Despite the majority of US companies publishing animal welfare policy commitments, many US companies provide limited information on how they expect to implement or report performance against these commitments. For example, only 16% of US companies report on how farm animal welfare is managed at both senior and operational levels, and just over half (56%) of US companies report on how they are performing against their objectives and targets.
Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to BBFAW, notes: “Commitments and targets are clearly important drivers of change. However, investors and other stakeholders will not see these as credible unless companies have clear strategies for delivering on these commitments, and unless companies report on progress against these commitments."
- Perdue ranks in tier 2 out of 6 in its first year of assessment. By contrast, fellow US poultry producer Sanderson Farm’s debuts in tier 5. Perdue’s score can be attributed to their robust policies, management approach, and commitments to improve animal welfare, as demonstrated by their detailed animal care policy and their performance against this.
- Food-service giants Compass Group and Aramark both moved up a tier this year. These companies have committed to using only cage-free eggs in their products and to improving broiler welfare standards in the US by 2024. They have also improved their reporting on performance against their animal welfare policies and commitments.
- Panera Bread’s score has improved significantly since 2016, following the publication of a detailed animal welfare beliefs statement, a public commitment to improving broiler welfare standards, and enhanced reporting on animal welfare commitments, performance, and progress.
- While overall trends are positive, the average score for US companies fell slightly to 34% in 2017, compared to 36% in 2016. This is due to the inclusion of five new US companies in the Benchmark in 2017, who, other than Perdue Farms, scored relatively poorly, and the failure of many US companies to adequately report on their performance and welfare impacts resulting from their animal welfare commitments – an area of the Benchmark that is gaining more weight within the scoring framework.
- In a recent BBFAW survey of the companies covered by the Benchmark, customer and client interest was the most important influencer in company approaches to farm animal welfare, cited by 78% of survey respondents, followed by influences of media, NGOs, and investors.
- 47% of companies have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare, and 72% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.
- 79% of the 110 companies benchmarked have made commitments to the avoidance of close confinement, such as cages.
- The average score across all companies in the 2017 Benchmark was 37%, compared to 34% in 2016 and 26% in 2012.
Nicky Amos, Program Director of BBFAW, notes: “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, 42 of the 110 companies covered by the Benchmark – a group which includes household names such as Kraft Heinz, Mars Inc., and Starbucks Corporation provide very limited information on their approach to farm animal welfare.”
More about the BBFAW:
The BBFAW is the globally recognized framework that enables investors, companies, NGOs and other stakeholders to understand corporate practices, processes, and performance on farm animal welfare.
BBFAW provides an annual, objective, independent assessment of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment, performance and disclosure in food companies. It was founded in 2012 by leading animal welfare organizations Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection. In 2014, Coller Capital joined the BBFAW as an additional partner.
The Benchmark is based on information made publically available by the company at the time of assessment, and covers three sectors: food retailers and wholesalers; food producers and manufacturers; and restaurants, bars and service companies.
Through the annual benchmark, extensive engagement programs with investors and companies, and production of guidance and other materials for companies and investors, BBFAW aims to drive higher farm animal welfare standards in the world’s leading food businesses.