LONDON, VIENNA – The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) published its tenth annual list of 150 global food companies, ranking them based on their investment, implementation and success in making animal welfare programs an instrumental part of their business strategy and that of their supplier-partners. Companies from 25 countries were represented on the list and included the categories of: food producers, food retailers and wholesalers and restaurants and bars. The BBFAW analyzed the companies’ farm animal welfare policies, management systems, reporting and performance using 37 criteria.

“As such it is the most authoritative and comprehensive global account of corporate practice for on-farm animal welfare,” according to the BBFAW, which is supported by Compassion in World Farming and Four Paws.

In its summary, the BBFAW said food companies have made significant progress since the first ranking was published in 2012, but more improvement is needed. For example, many companies have adopted animal welfare policies, assigned responsibilities to managers, established specific goals and developed auditing systems to confirm the company’s policies are being utilized.

“However, reporting on farm animal welfare performance is lagging,” BBFAW said in its report of the 2021 results. “While over half of the companies covered by the benchmark (are) now reporting at least some animal welfare performance data, it is often not possible to understand how companies are translating policy commitments into action, nor is it possible to get an accurate picture of the welfare impact on animals.”

In its report, BBFAW said one of the areas needing attention is proof of improved performance among the companies and that they are slow to deliver meaningful results of their animal welfare program impacts.
 “What this tells us is that whilst a significant proportion of companies – 119 in total (or 79%) – have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare, many of these companies are not reporting improved welfare for animals on the ground,” the report said.
 Results were divided into six impact ratings, including two tiers each in the categories of: “Integral to business strategy (Tier 1 and 2); some evidence of implementation (Tier 3 and 4); and limited or no evidence (Tier 5 and 6).

Among the highest-ranking meat and poultry companies in 2021, were Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods, Marfrig Global Foods SA, Cranswick PLC and Marfrig Global, all of which were included in Tier 2. Among those, Maple Leaf Foods moved up one tier while Cranswick move down one tier.
 “We're proud of our recent, full conversion of all our sow barns to our Advanced Open Sow Housing system that enables our sows to choose when they eat, socialize, play and rest,” said Kathleen Long, DVM, vice president of animal care at Maple Leaf. “We appreciate our collaboration with the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare as we strive for ongoing, continuous improvement in our animal care programs.”

Cargill pointed out that 2022 marks the sixth consecutive year the company was ranked in Tier 2.

“We are proud of our continued high ranking in this year’s BBFAW report, as well as the work we’re doing every day to advance animal welfare within our operations, with our customers, along our supply chains and across the industry,” said Nick Wolfenden, Cargill’s global sustainable animal welfare director. “As we deliver protein to the world, we embrace the responsibility to make sure animals are treated with dignity and respect.”

Moving down, to tier 3, was Danish Crown and Nestle SA. Meanwhile BRF SA, JBS SA and Perdue Farms all maintained their Tier 3 position from the previous year. Returning Tier 4 companies included OSI Group, Campbell Soup Co., Tönnies Group and WH Group Ltd., parent company of Smithfield Foods Inc. Dropping to Tier 4 from the previous year were Hormel Foods Corp., KraftHeinz, Tyson Foods Inc.   

Tier 5 included ConAgra, Industrias Bachoco (which moved up from Tier 6 last year), Sanderson Farms and Seaboard Corp.