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News Section Icon Published 2/26/2019

46 US Food Companies Among 150 Benchmarked on Farm Animal Welfare

Launched today, the seventh annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) provides an annual review of how the world’s leading food companies are managing and reporting their farm animal welfare practices. Of the 150 companies covered by the Benchmark this year, 46 are based in the US, representing 30%.

BBFAW, compiled in collaboration with leading animal welfare organizations Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, assesses how robustly the world’s leading food companies publicly report on their farm animal welfare management policies and performance against their goals.

The 2018 Benchmark shows notable improvements from US companies Chipotle, Dunkin’ Brands, Publix, and Yum! Brands, who all moved up one tier. Kraft Heinz achieved an impressive two tier jump – ranking in tier 3 this year up from tier 5 in last year’s assessment. Perdue and Cargill maintained their leadership positions in tier 2.

While five US companies have shown improvements in their disclosure and reporting around farm animal welfare, six companies – Sysco, Wal-Mart, Subway, General Mills, Dean Foods, and McDonald's – dropped a tier.

Moreover, due to the addition of 14 new companies with all but one ranking in tier 5 or 6, 54% of US companies now fall into the bottom two tiers – indicating that more than half of the companies reviewed in this year’s report provide little or no information on their approach to farm animal welfare.

Year on year, we are seeing many US food companies increasing their disclosure and reporting on farm animal welfare,” said Rachel Dreskin, Executive Director of Compassion in World Farming. “However, this year’s Benchmark highlights that there is still significant work to be done for all companies to not only strengthen their policies, but also their reporting on the proportion of animals in their supply chains that are actually benefiting from those commitments.

Dr. Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to BBFAW, noted: “Investors need to have confidence that companies are delivering the outcomes that they aspire to, in terms of improved farm animal welfare and in terms of better business risk management. The Benchmark exposes the gap between policies and performance, highlighting those companies whose governance processes work effectively and those whose governance processes are not fit for purpose in a world where farm animal welfare is an increasingly important driver of business value.”

US Highlights

  • Kraft Heinz achieved an impressive two-tier jump, rising from tier 5 in 2017 to tier 3 in 2018. This jump in scoring can be attributed to Kraft Heinz’s updated farm animal welfare policies and the company’s 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility report which, significantly, included reporting on performance and impact of Kraft Heinz’s policies on the farm animals within its supply chain.
  • Yum! Brands moved up a tier due to the publication of Yum! Brands' Sustainable Animal Protein Principles and Good Antimicrobial Stewardship policy--which included disclosure around animal welfare governance and policy implementation--as well as reporting that Taco Bell had met their target to source 100% of all eggs, including ingredient eggs, from cage-free laying hens.
  • Perdue continues to rank in tier 2 out of 6 in its second year of assessment. By contrast, fellow US poultry producer Sanderson Farms remained in tier 5 this year. With the weight of the performance reporting and impact section increasing, Perdue maintaining its ranking can be attributed to their continued disclosure of robust policies in their detailed animal care policy and their commitment to annual progress and performance reporting.
  • Due to the downward pressure created by the addition of new companies, the average score for US and Canadian companies fell to 28%, compared to 34% in 2017. Thirteen of the 14 new companies included this year ranked in the bottom two tiers of the Benchmark, indicating that these companies have significant opportunity to improve their disclosure and reporting on their farm animal welfare management policies. The Cheesecake Factory was the only new company to achieve a higher ranking in tier 3.
  • In 2018, with performance weighting increasing from 24% to 35%, US and Canadian companies scored an average of 10% on Performance Reporting and Impact in 2018, compared to 9% in 2017. This figure indicates that while reporting on farm animal welfare performance is rising on the food business agenda, there is still a significant gap in the quantity and quality of performance reporting and impact against companies’ farm animal welfare policies and commitments.

Global Highlights

  • In a 2018 BBFAW survey of the companies covered by the Benchmark, 73% of the food companies that responded stated that they were paying more attention to farm animal welfare than in previous years. 
  • Close confinement continues to be a key issue, with 115 companies (77%) making commitments to avoid close confinement in one or more of the major markets in which they operate. The most common corporate commitments published are for the elimination of cages for laying hens and sow stalls for sows.
  • In total, 93 of the 150 companies (62%) now report at least some performance data, compared to 59% in 2017. If the new companies added to the 2018 Benchmark were to be removed, the like-for-like increase is considerably higher (72%), reflecting the low proportion of new companies (37%) reporting any performance data.
  • Sixty-three companies (42%) report on the proportion of laying hens in their global supply chains that is free from close confinement (cage-free). Of these, nine state that 100% of the laying hens in their supply chains are free from close confinement.

Commenting on the overall findings, BBFAW Executive Director Nicky Amos noted: “Company practice continues to show consistent year on year improvement. For example, 53% of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare and 71% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.  However, these encouraging findings on management processes are not matched by performance; for example, while just over half of companies report on the proportion of animals that are free from close confinement, only one in four companies covered by the Benchmark provides any information on the proportion of animals that are stunned prior to slaughter and only one in five companies reports on the live animal transport times.

 

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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 publicly 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.