The UK’s Co-operative Group and Swiss food retailer Coop have been recognised in the top two tiers of the 2015 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report.
The report, which has been published annually since 2012, is a global measure of achievement on farm animal welfare management, policy commitment, performance and disclosure. In total 90 global food companies were included in the 2015 Benchmark, spread across food sectors (retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, bars and producers) and ownership structures (public, private and co-operatives).
Produced in collaboration with Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and Coller Capital, the report assesses approaches to farm animal welfare on the basis of published information in four areas: management commitment and policy; governance and management; leadership and innovation; and performance reporting. Organisations are then ranked into tiers, ranging from tier 1 (‘leadership’) to tier 6 (‘no evidence that it’s on the business agenda’).
Coop, one of Switzerland’s largest retail and wholesale organisations, with around 2.5 million members and nearly 1,500 stores, occupies Tier 1 for the third year in a row. In 2011, the co-operative was awarded the title of World’s Most Sustainable Retailer by independent rating agency Oekom Research AG, and today accounts for half of all the organic food sold in Switzerland.
Marks & Spencer, Noble Foods and Waitrose also achieved tier 1, with the Co-operative Group achieving tier 2, for the fourth year in a row. A spokesman for the Co-operative Food said: “The Co-op remains committed to animal welfare and we are pleased to have been rated as one of the world’s leading companies.”
Dairy co-operatives FrieslandCampina (Netherlands) and Arla Foods (UK) achieved tiers 3 and 4 respectively, and Rewe Group, a German retail and tourism co-operative, also achieved tier 4. French food co-op Terrena Group achieved tier 5.
Since the first report, the overall score across organisations has increased year-on-year – a trend, says the report, that is mirrored by changes in specific areas of the Benchmark: the proportion of companies with a published farm animal welfare policy has increased by 23 percentage points since 2012, and the proportion with published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare has increased by 28 percentage points.
The results show that it is realistic for companies across the world and in all sub-sectors to aspire to and achieve high scores
“From our discussions with leading companies in the Benchmark, it is clear that they see farm animal welfare both as a business risk to be managed and as a source of competitive advantage,” reads the report. “Within this, customer and client demand are the most important drivers for action.”
It adds that a number of organisations have identified the Benchmark as an influence on their approach to farm animal welfare, particularly as it enables organisations to benchmark themselves against industry peers and provides them with a framework of expectations for their management and reporting on farm animal welfare.
“The results show that it is realistic for companies across the world and in all sub-sectors to aspire to and achieve high scores in the Benchmark and to recognise the responsibility they hold for the welfare of animals in their supply chains,” said Nicky Amos, BBFAW executive director.
However the report also acknowledges that practice and reporting on farm animal welfare, relative to other corporate responsibility issues, remains in its infancy.
“While 84% of the companies covered by our assessment acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue, only 69% have formalised their commitment in overarching policies or equivalent documents, 54% have published farm animal welfare-related objectives and targets and 51% have described their management responsibilities for farm animal welfare,” reads the report.
“These findings indicate that many companies have yet to establish robust systems and processes for managing, measuring and reporting on farm animal welfare.”
Ms Amos added: “despite the progress we are seeing, there is clearly much work to be done to get farm animal welfare on the business agenda of many large global food companies”. Some 40% of companies (including Burger King, Domino’s Pizza Group (UK) and Starbucks), for example, still provide little or no information on their approach to farm animal welfare.
Another finding of the report is the growing influence of global investment companies on farm animal welfare. “For the first time we are seeing global investors actively engage with companies to encourage them to improve their practices and reporting on farm animal welfare,” said Rory Sullivan, BBFAW expert advisor.
“The annual Benchmark provides a strong incentive for companies to improve their disclosure and to account for their performance. As we build investor awareness and understanding of systemic risks and opportunities posed by farm animal welfare, we expect to see investor interest and, critically, action, increase over time”.
In this article
- Animal welfare
- Burger King
- CO-OPERATIVE Group
- Coller Capital
- food co-op
- food sectors
- Jeremy Coller
- Marks & Spencer
- Nicky Amos
- Oekom Research AG
- Organic food
- retail and tourism co-operative
- ReWe Group
- Rory Sullivan
- Terrena Group
- The Co-operative Food
- World Animal Protection
- North America
- United Kingdom