Animal Welfare Benchmark in New Report Ranks 80 Companies

(3BL Media/Just Means) - The 2014 edition of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), a review of the world’s top global foods and their animal welfare policies, has found that animal welfare in the U.S. is “immature.”

The benchmark is aimed mainly at investors and ranks companies on their farm animal welfare management and reporting. The report is independently assembled and funded by leading animal welfare NGOs Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection. It also receives support from Coller Capital.

BBFAW ranks 80 companies altogether. Each of them is placed in a category that ranges from Tier 1 (top ranking companies), to Tier 6 (low ranking companies with very weak animal welfare policies).

The novelty of the 2014 report is that it rates for the first time 20 companies with headquarters in the U.S., including Walmart, Tyson and Costco. Some of them were evaluated for the first time.

It found that U.S. companies are not doing as well on the animal welfare front as their European counterparts because the issue seems to be less developed in the U.S. No U.S. companies made the higher tier, although some have introduced systems to manage and report farm animal welfare, such as HJ Heinz and Hillshire Brands.

“The Benchmark shows that there is currently a disconnect in the U.S. between stakeholder expectations and food companies’ level of disclosure. We hope to see increased transparency and disclosure in the coming years, which will serve as a stepping stone toward improved farm animal welfare,” says Rachel Dreskin, U.S. Food Business Manager at Compassion in World Farming.

On the positive side, the report has found that 45 percent (29) of the 65 companies assessed worldwide since the first report in 2012 have moved up at least one tier. This includes leading brands such as HJ Heinz, Aramark, Delhaize Group and Subway.

Despite the progress, farm animal welfare remains an underreported business issue both globally and in the U.S., as half of the total number of companies assessed appear in the bottom two tiers.(Tiers 5 and 6).

A great number of companies are still unable to demonstrate how they implement and monitor animal welfare policies. Besides, they haven’t started publishing performance measures linked to key welfare production systems or specific welfare outcomes from 2014 to start introducing performance-based criteria.

“This report will help investors understand which food companies are taking farm animal welfare seriously. It must surely be a concern that over half of companies currently languish in the bottom two tiers of the Benchmark,” says Jeremy Coller, founder of Coller Capital, the world’s largest private equity secondaries firm.

Image credit: Compassion In World Farming