Customer interest in animal welfare is the primary driver for business action, new reports indicates

AFRICA — According to a recently released report by World Animal Protection, leading global food companies are demonstrating that action on animal welfare is possible within a competitive environment however, much more needs to be done as some of the major global food companies are severely lacking on Farm Animal Welfare policies and standards.

The report published by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), an initiative backed by World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming, ranks 150 global food companies on farm animal welfare standards across six tiers.

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Tier 1 is at the top, demonstrating leadership on farm animal welfare, and Tier 6 is at the bottom, indicating that companies have yet to acknowledge animal welfare as a business issue.

Specifically, the report showed that 87% of the companies acknowledge farm animal welfare is a relevant business issue with 75% of them having formal overarching policies on the same.

However, 64% of companies assessed are in the lower three tiers. Companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway with presence in Africa are among ten companies that have not shown any demonstrable improvement in their ranking since 2012, states the company’s press-release.

While many companies are showing a lack of action, some progress is being made with 63% of companies describing how they monitor and audit the farm animal welfare performance of their suppliers.

Around 15% of the companies have a universal to reduce or avoid routine use of antibiotics compared to only 4% of companies having a universal commitment to the avoidance of close confinement.

Specifically, Nestlé and Tesco are leading the way on farm animal welfare being rank at tier 2 while Yum! Brands (KFC), Unilever and Domino’s Pizza Group are in tier 3.

Carrefour, Restaurants Brand International (Burger King) and Subway are in Tier 4. These brands however do not seem to be applying the policies, standards or commitments to their franchises in Africa.

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For instance, KFC has committed to adhere to the Better Chicken Commitment in Europe and UK but that does not seem to be the case here.

Similarly Carrefour has made commitments on reduction or avoidance of routine use of antibiotics and avoidance of confinement but they are yet to implement the same in Africa.

The BBFAW’s 2019 company and investor surveys shows that customer interest in animal welfare is the primary driver for business action for 79% of companies, while 82% of investors consider animal welfare to be an investment risk.

Consumer interest and growing momentum for companies to take an interest in animal welfare is the main reason why many of the world’s most influential food companies are showing willingness to change, which is why company performance in the benchmark continues to improve year on year.

As many as 30 companies have improved their tier ranking in the latest benchmark. However, the report also warns that progress is still too slow for the nearly 40% of companies who appear in the two bottom tiers.

These companies are providing little or no information about how they are managing the risks and opportunities associated with farm animal welfare

Tennyson Williams, Director for Africa, at World Animal Protection, said, “Although animal welfare movement is starting to pick pace, more work needs to be done. The exploitation of billions of animals on factory farms not only cause mass suffering to animals but it also exposes us to diseases and puts us all at risk.”

“Farm animals have suffered in cruel conditions for long enough, and it’s time to change that and this tool makes it clear which companies are leading, and which are lagging,” he added

Dr. Victor Yamo, Farming Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, said, “For the last eight years, the Benchmark has been instrumental in encouraging global food businesses that have franchises in Africa to adopt new policies on farm animal welfare. However, it is clear there is a great deal more to do if farm animal welfare is to become institutionalised across the global food industry.”

According to Dr.Victor Yamo a survey in 2019 indicated that consumers are willing to pay more if they are assured that the meat products are free of antibiotics and chemicals, the animals were raised and transported in high welfare conditions before being slaughtered humanely.

“The rise in consumer interest signals a “perfect storm” for moving the dial on farm animal welfare. Companies that fail to take responsibility for ensuring the welfare of animals farmed for food can expect heightened scrutiny from consumers of animal products,” he concluded.

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