Multinational food and beverage firms that have invested in the African market are paying attention to the welfare of farmed animals amid enhanced scrutiny from regulators and consumers, said a report that was launched in Nairobi on Wednesday.
The report that was launched by World Animal Protection said that 87 percent of the 150 global companies that were surveyed regard animal welfare as key to the sustainability of their business.
“Farm animals have suffered in cruel conditions long enough, and it is time to change that,” said Tennyson Williams, director for Africa at World Animal Protection.He acknowledged that the global food industry has gradually appreciated the importance of adhering to rules and regulations that promote health of farmed animals thanks to enlightened policies and pressure from consumers.
“Food producers, supermarkets and restaurant chains will ignore demands of consumers at their own peril,” said Williams, adding that keeping farmed animals in a hazardous environment is a threat to human health.
The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) that is affiliated with World Animal Protection, published the report to shed light on where global food chains rank in terms of promoting health of farmed animals.
According to the report, about 63 percent of companies surveyed said they monitor and audit farmed animals’ welfare performance of their suppliers while 15 percent have committed to reducing routine use of antibiotics on livestock and chicken.
“Farm animal welfare leadership and improved management practices are increasingly becoming institutionalized,” said the report, adding that 60 percent of the world’s largest food companies have devoted resources to ensuring animal welfare is embedded in their supply chains.
The report said that multinational food companies have prioritized action against practices that are a threat to animal welfare, including overuse of antibiotics, closed confinement, routine mutilations, use of growth-promoting substances and long-distance live transportation.
Victor Yamo, farming campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said that consumer lobby groups have intensified pressure on multinational food companies to institutionalize animal welfare in their business practices.
“The rise in consumer interest signals a perfect storm for moving the dial on farm animal welfare,” said Yamo.”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 added.