Marks & Spencer and Waitrose top animal welfare rankings, while Domino’s Pizza Group PLC and Starbucks continue to flounder

27 January 2017

Our global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) shows some companies prioritising the well being of animals in their supply chains, while several major fast food chains have yet to acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue.

Designed to encourage higher farm animal welfare standards across the food industry, BBFAW annually reviews the world’s leading food companies. It is produced by ourselves in collaboration with Compassion in World Farming and investment firm Coller Capital.      

Marks & Spencer, Noble Foods, Waitrose, UK food producer Cranswick, Swiss retail cooperative Migros, and Coop Switzerland, attained highest marks for management and reporting on farm animal welfare in the 2016 Benchmark Report.

Cranswick and Migros shot up to the top tier from a lower position the year before, showing leadership in farm animal welfare. Greggs, Tesco and BRF rose up the rankings to tier two, joining McDonald’s and Unilever – a position which indicates that animal welfare is an integral part of a company’s business strategy.

Fast food giants Domino’s Pizza Group Plc, Starbucks, the owner of Burger King (Restaurant Brands International) and the owner of KFC (Yum! Brands) are among several still low ranking companies.

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”.

Room to improve

However, despite these positive trends, improvements must be made by low-ranking brands.

42 of the 99 companies still rank in the two lowest tiers (5 and 6), including Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International, Domino’s Pizza Group Plc and Starbucks Corporation.

Domino’s Pizza Group Plc is in the lowest tier, alongside Kraft Heinz and JD Wetherspoon, with no evidence of farm animal welfare being on their business agendas. Starbucks, Restaurant Brands International and Yum! Brands (owner of KFC) are in the second to bottom tier, indicating that farm animal welfare is on the business agenda but there is limited evidence of implementation.

Amos added: “[This] demonstrates that there is much work to be done to even get farm animal welfare on the business agenda of many large global food companies.”

Positive changes since report started five years ago

Of the companies studied:  

  • 73% have published farm animal welfare policies – compared to just 46% in 2012;
  • and 65% have published targets on farm animal welfare – up from 26% in 2012.

Currently, 13 companies sit in the Benchmark’s top two tiers, including: Coop Group (Switzerland), Cranswick, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Noble Foods and Waitrose in Tier 1. BRF, Cargill, Co-op (UK), Greggs, McDonald’s, Tesco and Unilever are in Tier 2.

Embedding farm animal welfare into business models

These companies demonstrate strong commitments to farm animal welfare and have established management systems and processes.

As well the companies’ achievements, the report highlights the important role of institutional investors in driving improvements in practice and process across the food industry.

Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director, said: “A better quality of life for farm animals relies upon the industry taking a stand, responding to changing consumer demand and making large-scale changes across the world. The 2016 Business Benchmark highlights that this issue remains a low priority for many companies, and there's still a long way to go to encourage the global food industry to end the suffering of farm animals who frankly deserve better. Despite this, it's great to see a growing group of progressive companies leading the way as they work to improve farm animal welfare standards."

Jeremy Coller, founder of Coller Capital and the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return Initiative, added:

“From farms to fast food chains, global investors want well managed, forward-thinking food companies. The Benchmark is an essential tool to help investors find such corporate leaders, as a company’s disclosure of farm animal welfare practices offers a valuable insight into the wider quality of corporate management.

Read the full report here.

“A better quality of life for farm animals relies upon the industry taking a stand, responding to changing consumer demand and making large-scale changes across the world” - Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director.
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