Company Trends in Animal Welfare Highlighted in Report

March 7, 2019

The 2018 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare was recently released by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.  Though the perspective of these animal activist groups differs from many in the ag industry,  the study can still be used to highlight company trends in animal welfare policies. The report details mostly publicly available information from 150 companies.  This is more than double the number of companies examined since first published in 2012, and certain to skew observed trends. Forty-six percent of the companies are European based, and 35 percent are based in North America.

The report highlights an increased focus on animal welfare policies within food companies.  Forty-three percent of the companies have explicit board or senior management oversight of their farm animal welfare policies, up from 22 percent in 2012.   Seventy-one percent have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare, up from 26 percent in 2012. Some of this increase is likely due to increased transparency rather than increased efforts, with companies actively publishing their efforts regarding animal welfare.

Close confinement is the number one issue addressed, with 77 percent of the companies reporting a commitment to avoiding “extreme” confinement within their supply chains.  In addition, 73 percent of the companies indicated they are increasing focus on farm animal welfare in multiple ways, including outcome measures to drive and incentivize improvements, acting on specific farm animal welfare issues (i.e., cage-free eggs), publishing formal policies, and providing internal training. The report acknowledges consumer willingness to pay is a major barrier to change.