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Noble Foods and Cranswick lead the producer sector when it comes to managing and reporting their farm animal welfare policies and practices, according to the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report.
Noble Foods retained its position in the highest-ranking Tier 1 of companies, and was joined by Cranswick as the only other producer, having moved up from Tier 2.
The report also sees five companies join the list of those recognised for their animal welfare practices including new companies in China – New Hope Liuhe and Henan Zhongpin – which join the WH Group on the list.
Other new companies recognised for their advances in their welfare practices and their openness in sharing their practices are the McDonald’s supplier OSI Group and the multinationals Kraft Heinz and Charoen Pokphand.
Now in its fifth year, the BBFAW provides an annual review of how 99 of the world’s leading food companies are managing risks and opportunities associated with farm animal welfare.
The report, which is compiled in collaboration with leading animal welfare organisations Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and investment firm, Coller Capital, reveals that companies are paying increased attention to farm animal welfare within their supply chains.
In all, 73 per cent of companies now have published farm animal welfare policies, compared to just 46 per cent in 2012, and 65 per cent of companies have published targets for on farm animal welfare, up from 26 per cent in 2012.
Currently, 13 companies occupy leadership positions in the Benchmark’s top two tiers.
CIWF says that these companies demonstrate strong commitments to farm animal welfare and have established management systems and processes. As well as Noble Foods and Cranswick they include Coop Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer, Migros, and Waitrose in Tier 1, and BRF, Cargill, Co-op (UK), Greggs, McDonald’s, Unilever and Tesco in Tier 2.
A total of 36 producers and manufacturers were reviewed in the BBFAW report with 11 moving up at least one tier, (Cargill and Mondelēz International both moved up two tiers), six new entries, 18 non-movers, while Brazilian producer Marfrig fell two tiers to Tier 4.
Veli Moluluo, Managing Director, Consumer Foods Division, Noble Foods said: “Our commitment to continually seek to improve the welfare of animals on our farms, or those owned by our contracted farmers, is absolute.
“To be recognised as a consistent leader in this field since the BBFAW report was launched in 2013 is very pleasing, and the interest from customers and consumers alike is testament to the growing profile of both BBFAW and the subject as a whole.”
One area in which Cranswick scored highly in the report is its commitment to the avoidance of long-distance transport. They have a KPI to keep typical journey times to its own processing sites to below eight hours, with typical journey times between three to four hours.
Cranswick is also firmly committed to the avoidance of routine activities such as tail-docking, teeth-clipping, castration on pigs and beak trimming on poultry.
They work closely with their UK and Global producers and meat suppliers in these areas and fully support their European suppliers who are working towards non-castration.
As a result, they estimate that over 70 per cent of their European pork purchased originates from farms that do not carry out castration and predict this rate will grow in coming years.
Matthew Brown, Group Technical Supply Chain Controller, Cranswick Foods plc said: “Cranswick plc recognise that animal welfare is an important and integral part of our business.
“We are committed to the health and well-being of the animals we rear and breed. The BBFAW is a well-respected independent assessment of our commitment to welfare standards, and it is for this reason that we are delighted that the progress we have made in 2016 has been recognised.
“We would like to thank the BBFAW team for the guidance and support they have given our business on this journey of continuous improvement and our long-term commitment to animal welfare standards.”
The report also highlights the important role being played by institutional investors in driving improvements in practice and process across the food industry.
Reflecting on these findings, BBFAW Executive Director, Nicky Amos, said: “With 26 companies moving up at least one tier since 2015, there is a clear indication that the food industry is finally starting to treat farm animal welfare as an important business issue.
“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, demonstrating there is still much work to be done to even get farm animal welfare on the business agenda of many large global food companies.”
BBFAW Advisor, Rory Sullivan, commented: “The Benchmark shows that investors are key agents of change. They are sending a clear signal to companies 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.”
Compassion in World Farming’s CEO, Philip Lymbery said: “We have witnessed some monumental market shifts for animal welfare since the last BBFAW report.
“Stakeholders and investors are pushing this progress forwards, reflecting the wishes of the vast majority of consumers today.
“It is increasingly clear that this is an issue which cannot be ignored by companies and we congratulate those that are moving up the ranking and driving progress in animal welfare across the food industry.”