Food Companies

Corporate management and reporting on farm animal welfare continues to lag behind other corporate responsibility issues

Since the first Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare was conducted in 2012, we have seen a marked increase in the number of companies reporting on their approach to farm animal welfare, but the fact remains that the majority of food companies still do not provide a coherent, consolidated account of their approach to farm animal welfare.

Information on how companies are managing farm animal welfare in their operations and supply chains is used by investors, by non-governmental organisations, by the companies themselves and by their industry peers to provide important insights into how corporate reporting on farm animal welfare might be used to inform and influence internal company practice, into how such reporting might be used to engage key stakeholders on farm animal welfare issues, and into how reporting can provide reassurance that farm animal welfare-related issues are being managed effectively.

Despite a steady increase in corporate reporting on farm animal welfare, information tends to be spread across CSR reports, press releases, customer FAQs and wider discussions about issues such as food and sustainability.

The Business Benchmark offers companies a logical framework for organising corporate reporting on farm animal welfare and for presenting information in a form that provides civil society and investment organisations with a robust basis for engagement with them.

However, while reporting is important, our primary interest is in the welfare of animals and in the animal welfare outcomes that are achieved. To that end, we have set out the values that we think should underpin corporate practice on and management of farm animal welfare:

  • We believe that close confinement for livestock (e.g. sow stalls, farrowing crates, all cages, tethering, veal crates) should be avoided at all times.
  • We believe that genetically modified or cloned animals or their progeny should not be used.
  • We believe that the use of growth promoting substances should be avoided at all times.
  • We believe that the use of routine antibiotics for prophylactic purposes should be minimised and, ideally, avoided.
  • We believe that routine mutilations (including teeth clipping, tail docking, dehorning, de-budding, mulesing, beak trimming) should be avoided at all times.
  • We believe that all animals should be stunned prior to slaughter.
  • We believe that live animals should never be transported for more than eight hours (from loading to unloading).
  • We believe that companies should not produce or sell products that are produced in systems that are not considered humane, for example foie gras and white veal.