Some global food brands are stubbornly resistant to improving animal welfare standards, according to a new report launched today by World Animal Protection.
The 2020 BBFAW Benchmark report reveals that 59 of the 150 companies appear in the lowest tiers (Tiers 5 and 6), indicating these companies provide little or no information on their approach to farm animal welfare. Even more surprising, is that one in five (31) trusted global food companies has no farm animal welfare policy at all. There is some encouraging news, that 23 companies have moved up at least one tier, yet the average score for companies overall is just 35%, showing there is much room for improvement.
Some of the lowest scoring companies with presence in Africa – ranked in the second last tier of the Benchmark – are Subway and Starbucks, all of whom have been assessed annually since BBFAW started in 2012, yet they lag significantly behind their peers on farm animal welfare.
The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) is an initiative backed by World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming, and is the leading global measure of corporate action on farm animal welfare. The report ranks 150 global food companies on farm animal welfare standards across six tiers. 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.
Farm Animal Welfare Ranking (Food Brands with presence in Africa)
|Tier 1 – Leadership
|None present in Africa|
|Tier 2 – Integral to business strategy
|Nestle & Unilever|
|Tier 3 – Established but work to be done||Carrefour, Domino’s Pizza Group, McDonald’s Corporation & Yum Brands|
|Tier 4 – Making progress on implementation
|None present in Africa|
|Tier 5 – On the business agenda but limited evidence of implementation
|Subway & Starbucks|
|Tier 6 – No evidence it’s on the business agenda
|None present in Africa|
Reporting the proportion of animals that currently meet standards is a key part of the BBFAW scoring system to ensure that policies are successfully being implemented. However, company data indicates that more needs to be done to deliver positive welfare impacts for animals, including:
- Only one in eight companies reports on the proportion of laying hens free from beak trimming. Of these, just four companies (3%) report that more than 25% of laying hens in their global supply chains are free from beak trimming.
- Only one in eight companies reports on the proportion of broilers that have better welfare due to a more natural growth rate. Of these, just one company (<1%) reports that more than 25% of broiler chickens in its global supply chain are from strains of birds with improved welfare outcomes and with a slower growth potential.
While there is clearly a long way to go, there were some encouraging moves such as:
- The proportion of companies that report on the number of broiler chickens that grow at a more natural pace resulting in improved welfare outcomes has increased to 13% from just 4% in 2019. While this proportion is still low, this was a new question added to the Benchmark in 2019 and scored for the first time in 2020.
- Thirty-one percent of companies, compared to just 21% in 2019, report on the proportion of animals (including fin fish) in their global supply chains that is pre-slaughter stunned. While we welcome this improvement, the vast majority of companies do not still report this data.
Specifically Nestle, Unilever, and carrefour are companies with presence here in Africa that have improved significantly since their first rank.
Consumer interest and growing momentum for companies to take an interest in animal welfare shows why the world’s most influential food companies should be willing to change and continue to improve year on year. Thirteen producers and manufacturers improved their score by at least one tier between 2019 and 2020, compared to nine retailers and wholesalers, and just one company in the restaurants and bars sub-sector.
However, the report also warns that progress is still too slow for the nearly 40% of companies who appear in the two bottom tiers.
Dr Victor Yamo, Farming Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection, said:
“COVID-19 has brought new challenges like never before, but despite this, we must continue to accelerate and drive forward the animal welfare movement. We must do better for the world’s 50 billion animals that are factory farmed each year, causing immense suffering. Not only do the cruel practices of intensive farming subject animals to misery, but they expose us to potential diseases and risks too. The BBFAW tool exposes those companies that care for animals, and those who do not.
“Animal cruelty is becoming more and more important for consumers – producers, supermarkets and restaurants would be foolish to ignore it. This tool brings all the commitments together in one place, providing a clear and transparent scorecard for all to see.”
From April 2021, World Animal Protection will hand over the BBFAW baton to Four Paws International. World Animal Protection, alongside Compassion in World Farming, has steered the BBFAW since its inception in 2012 through providing the vision, dedication, technical expertise and financial support over the past nine years. World Animal Protection will continue to take an active interest in the BBFAW as Four Paws and Compassion in World Farming together support and drive forward the BBFAW programme as it enters its second decade.