Hull-based meat processor, Cranswick has retained its top tier ranking in the sixth annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, launched today (22 February) at the London Stock Exchange.
The company was the only producer to be listed in the top ‘leadership’ Tier 1, which was otherwise dominated by the retail sector with Co-op Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer, Migros and Waitrose also maintaining their positions as global leaders on farm animal welfare.
The Benchmark, which is supported by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, and investment firm, Coller Capital, ranked 110 companies from across the world in six categories.
Cranswick retained its top ranking for the second consecutive year, demonstrating a strong commitment to animal welfare across its own operations and throughout its supply chain in the UK and globally.
“It has clear positions on the avoidance of close confinement for laying hens, sows, and beef cattle, the avoidance of routine mutilations, the reduction of antibiotic usage, the avoidance of animals that have been subjected to genetic engineering or cloning, long-distance transport and pre-slaughter stunning,” the BBFAW said.
“While Cranswick has set, and reports on, targets relating to these issues, it also reports on its performance across a range of other animal welfare related metrics.”
The sector that showed most improvement in its overall performance was foodservice. In previous years it has significantly lagged behind the retailer & wholesale and producer & manufacturer sectors, but in the 2017 Report, the restaurants & bars sector has successfully closed the gap.
The foodservice sector’s average score rose from 27% in 2016 to 34% this year while the retailer & wholesaler and producer & manufacturer sub-sectors saw their respective scores stand at 37% and 38% (versus 36% and 39% respectively in 2016).
Nicky Amos, Executive Director of BBFAW said: “Perhaps the most significant change relative to the 2016 Benchmark is the dramatically improved performance of the restaurants and bars sector. Our discussions with companies in the sector suggest that this improvement is being driven by increased client and consumer interest in farm animal welfare, and by NGO, media and investor pressure on these companies to make public commitments on specific animal welfare issues (e.g. on cage-free eggs, on broiler chicken welfare, on reductions in the use of antibiotics).”
The Benchmark shows that many of the 110 global food companies (11 more than in 2016) covered are integrating farm animal welfare into their management and reporting processes. For example, 47% of these companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare, and 72% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.
BBFAW said there is still much work to be done, however, as the overall average score (at 37%) remains fairly low, and 41 out of 110 companies still appear in Tiers 5 and 6, indicating that they provide little or no information on their approach to farm animal welfare.
A total of 40 producer and manufacturing companies from across Europe, the USA, Asia and Australasia were included in this year’s Benchmark with 25 non-movers, four new entries, seven producers rising at least one tier and four companies, Noble Foods, Ferrero, Mars and New Hope Group, falling a tier.
2 Sisters Food Group moved up a tier from Tier 4 to Tier 3 in this year’s Benchmark. The company has a detailed overarching farm animal welfare policy including a clear Antibiotics Policy & Strategy for poultry, and a universal commitment to the avoidance of animals subject to cloning, BBFAW said.
Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to BBFAW noted: “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, 41 of the 110 companies covered by the Benchmark – a group which includes household names such as Kraft Heinz, Mars Inc. and Starbucks provide very limited information on their approach to farm animal welfare.”
Compassion in World Farming’s CEO, Philip Lymbery, said: “Pressure from consumers, investors, the media and NGOs, is shining a spotlight on farm animal welfare, forcing it up the corporate agenda. I congratulate those companies responding positively and encourage those yet to meet the challenge to start taking action for farm animals in their supply.”