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Report: Companies Failing to Effectively Manage Animal Welfare Issues

Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:43pm

NEW YORK (WSPA) — The second report of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare reveals that despite growing investor interest in the business case for managing farm animal welfare standards, companies are failing to provide reassurance that farm animal welfare-related issues are being effectively managed.

The Benchmark, which covers 70 global food businesses, including major food retailers and wholesalers, restaurants and bars, and food producers found that while over 70% of these companies acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue, only 56% have published a formal farm animal welfare policy, just 39% describe how their board or senior management oversee their approach to farm animal welfare, and only 41% have published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare.

Rory Sullivan, expert advisor to the Business Benchmark, comments, “A key conclusion to be drawn from the 2013 Benchmark is that farm animal welfare continues to be a systemic risk that many companies in the food industry are not effectively managing. The fact that over half of the companies covered by the Benchmark provide little or no information on their approach suggests that farm animal welfare remains an immature business issue.”

But there are encouraging signs. Programme Director, Nicky Amos, observed: “We have seen progress in three distinct areas:

  • A general increase in the number of companies identifying farm animal welfare as a business issue. For example, we have seen a 10% rise (from 46% in 2012 to 56% in 2013) in the number of companies that have published formal farm animal welfare policies, and a 15% rise (from 26% in 2012 to 41% in 2013) in the number of companies that have published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare.
  • Seven companies have carved out a clear leadership position in this area: Coop Group (Switzerland) and Marks & Spencer (the two top ranked companies) and The Co-operative Food (UK), J Sainsbury, Marfrig, Noble Foods and Unilever.
  • Others that have demonstrated significant improvements over the past year include Gruppo Cremonini, Nestlé, Sodexo, Wal-Mart and Waitrose.”

The Benchmark has been produced with the expertise and support of leading animal welfare organizations Compassion in World Farming (Compassion) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

Philip Lymbery, CEO, Compassion in World Farming, says:

“The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare has played a catalytic role in putting farm animal welfare on the business and investor agenda. It has pushed companies to acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue and, critically, it has forced them to take action.”

Mike Baker, CEO, World Society for the Protection of Animals, says:

“Animal welfare should play an integral part in basic food standards; I think we are seeing more demand from both consumers and regulators for this. The Benchmark’s effectiveness is demonstrated by the significant changes we have seen in company performance in the last year alone, and we hope that will continue year over year.”

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