KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cargill and Perdue Farms received high marks among processors and companies including Hormel, Tyson Foods Inc., JBS, Danish Crown and Nestle ranked favorably in the seventh annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, sponsored by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.

Based on a six-tier rating scale to rank companies’ on-farm animal welfare practices in 35 areas, the 2018 Benchmark includes 150 global food companies representing the retail, foodservice and wholesale sectors as well as the production and processing segments of the supply chain. Companies represented in the Benchmark are based in Europe (69), North America (52) and various other countries, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand and China.

Based on Tier 1 as the highest ranking, those companies listed under the heading of “Leadership” include: Switzerland-based Coop Group, Canswick, Marks and Spencer, Noble Foods and Waitrose. Among the 12 companies in Tier 2, under the heading of “Integral to business strategy,” are Cargill, Perdue Farms, Tesco and Unilever.

“Every day Cargill works hard to care for animals and prioritize their welfare, maintaining high standards for our suppliers and ourselves,” said Corporate Senior Vice President Brian Sikes. “Our team of experts are stewards, focused on the proper care and handling of animals so that we can meet the world’s growing demand for nutritious, affordable and high-quality protein.”

“It is clear from our assessment of Perdue Farms that the company is making farm animal welfare an integral part of its business strategy,” said Nicky Amos, executive director of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.

McDonald’s, Danish Crown, BRF SA, and JBS are listed in Tier 3 but dropped one tier from last year to be listed under the heading of “Established but work to be done.” Also listed among the 34 companies in Tier 3 are Chipotle Mexican Grill, Marfrig, Nestle, Hormel Foods Corp., YUM Brands and Kraft Heinz. A newcomer to the ranking is Maple Leaf Foods, in Tier 4 (“Making progress on implementation”), while Smithfield Foods’ parent company WH Group in China, made the list in the same tier along with The Wendy’s Co., Walmart and OSI Group. Categorized as having animal welfare “On the business agenda but limited evidence of implementation,” Tier 4 companies include Seaboard Corp., Sanderson Farms Inc., Subway, Target, Sysco and Papa John’s among others. Meanwhile Japan’s Nippon Foods along with US-based foodservice distributor, US Foods are among those companies in Tier 6 (“No evidence on the business agenda).

The executive summary included five key findings from the 2019 Benchmark:

  1. Farm animal welfare is now a leadership issue, with strong commercial drivers for action;
  2. Companies are improving their management practices, processes and reporting on farm animal welfare;
  3. Close confinement is seen as a key issue;
  4. Reporting on farm animal welfare performance is lagging; and
  5. Lack of knowledge (e.g. on the wider business and marketing benefits of higher welfare) and consumer willingness to pay are the key barriers to progress.

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection was encouraged by the progress made by companies that have been part of the Benchmark for multiple years.

“The Benchmark is a long-term change initiative,” he said. “One of the most significant findings in this year’s report is that, of the 55 food companies that have been continuously included in the Benchmark since 2012, 17 have moved up one tier, 20 have moved up two tiers and eight have moved up three tiers. These improvements are even more striking given the tightening of the Benchmark criteria and the increased emphasis on performance reporting and impact over this time.”