Wednesday, 27 February 2019 13:39

BBFAW recognises development in the Restaurants & Bars Sector but still no Tier 1 ranking

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BBFAW recognises progress in the Restaurants & Bars Sector but still no Tier 1 ranking as Marks & Spencer, Cranswick, Noble Foods, Waitrose and Co-op Group (Switzerland) retain their positions as global leaders on farm animal welfare. 

The seventh annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, backed by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, confirms Cranswick, Noble Foods, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Co-op Group (Switzerland) as global leaders on farm animal welfare. However, while many of the 150 companies covered by the Benchmark, have now adopted farm animal welfare policies and implemented farm animal management systems, the majority provide limited or no information on their farm animal welfare performance. 

Commenting on the overall findings, Nicky Amos, Executive Director of BBFAW noted: “Company practice continues to show consistent year on year improvement. For example, 53% of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare and 71% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.  However, these encouraging findings on management processes are not matched by performance; for example, while just over half of companies report on the proportion of animals that are free from close confinement, only one in four companies covered by the Benchmark provides any information on the proportion of animals that are stunned prior to slaughter and only one in five companies reports on live animal transport times.”

The 2018 Report demonstrates that UK companies achieved a significantly higher overall average score (61%), compared to companies from other geographic areas, including North America (28%) and Europe, excluding the UK, (34%).

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming commented: “This position, however, could be undermined by Brexit if existing welfare legislation is not retained in the UK. Conversely, Brexit could be an opportunity for the UK to get even further ahead if the government were to make its own animal welfare legislation, for example, by introducing a ban on caged egg production (as is the case in Germany) and banning live exports for fattening and slaughter.”

Of the 150 companies (up from 110 last year) assessed, 35 were in the Restaurants & Bars sector including the top 30 restaurant chains globally with annual revenues of over US$1 billion. There were seven new entrants from the sector with Papa John’s Pizza, The Cheesecake Factory and CKE Restaurants amongst them.  Overall, in the Restaurants & Bars sector, there were four companies that moved up one tier, two that fell by one tier and 22 non-movers.

Traditionally the Restaurant & Bars sector (a category that includes many of the food service providers) has lagged behind the Retailers & Wholesalers sector and the Producers & Manufacturers sector.  However, in 2017, the performance gap closed between them and has continued to do so this year with the average scores for both the Retailers & Wholesalers and Restaurants & Bars sectors being 32% in 2018.  The average score for the Producers & Manufacturers lags slightly at 31%.

Despite the improved average performance, there remains no restaurant or bar company listed in Tier 1.  The two highest performers are Greggs (a non-mover) in Tier 2 and Whitbread which has moved up a tier into Tier 2.

Whitbread’s success has been driven partly by a successful move towards using welfare outcomes derived from animal-based indicators to assess welfare on farm and at slaughter for its principal livestock species. Historically, Whitbread has relied predominantly on self-reporting by suppliers to ensure compliance with its welfare requirements. However, KPI assessment is now a stand-alone element of Whitbread’s independent inspections across its supply chains.  This performance monitoring process provides the company with an overview of emerging health and welfare trends.

Yum! Brands deserves recognition for moving up two tiers to Tier 3 this year.  This improvement can be attributed to the publication of Yum! Brands' Sustainable Animal Protein Principles and Good Antimicrobial Stewardship policy, as well as improved reporting on its animal welfare governance and policy implementation, and animal welfare performance. Despite this progress, Yum! Brands recognises that there is more work to be done to ensure that farm animal welfare is integral to its business strategy.

Other restaurant and bar companies moving up a tier in 2018 include Dunkin! Brands and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

For more than 15 years, Chipotle has committed to sourcing from farms that follow animal welfare practices which far exceed industry standards, while avoiding the use of unnecessary antibiotics and synthetic hormones. In 2018, Chipotle identified the opportunity to further improve its chicken welfare standards by addressing a number of critical welfare issues; better genetics for improved quality of life, more living space, natural light, perches and pecking substrates to stimulate behaviour, and more humane slaughter practices.  Chipotle will partner with its suppliers and farmers to build the market for chicken raised in a way that addresses these issues and will engage with animal scientists and welfare experts to adopt standards that are aligned with the new requirements of the Global Animal Partnership’s standard for broiler chickens.

Yael Cypers, Animal Welfare Manager, Chipotle Mexican Grill said: “At Chipotle, we are passionate about the food we serve and how it is sourced.  We partner with suppliers who make every effort to show concern and care for the animals they raise and conduct regular audits to ensure our standards are being met.  It is important that we are always finding ways to improve these processes and given that the BBFAW is considered one of the most authoritative global benchmarks for the assessment of corporate farm animal welfare practice, we are pleased that Chipotle’s rating has improved year on year.”

There were several key non-movers in the Restaurants & Bars sector, including JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, Starbucks, Sodexo, Compass Group and Domino’s Pizza, while two big names - McDonald’s and Subway fell one tier.

Subway’s fall was largely a consequence of what appears to be an overhaul of the company’s webpages and its sustainability reporting on its US webpage.  Information previously published on national websites was not available at the time of the BBFAW’s assessment, which meant that it was not possible to determine whether the company is still fulfilling its previously stated commitments to improve animal welfare, for example, eliminating gestation crates.

McDonald’s fall from Tier 2 to Tier 3 is partly attributed to its reduced reporting on company-wide policies relating to key welfare issues (e.g. the avoidance of growth promoting substances and the avoidance of routine mutilations), as well as the increased weighting assigned to performance reporting and impact questions in 2018.

The Benchmark undoubtedly provides a solid framework for companies on which to build and improve their performance and it is driving change.  The overall average score at 32% is down from 37% in 2017, but this is not unexpected with the introduction of 43 new companies and the increased weighting (from 24% in 2017 to 35% of the total score in 2018) of the performance reporting and impact questions in the 2018 Benchmark.  If we were to exclude the scores for the new companies and the increase in weighting, then the overall average scores would have been 38% and 41% respectively.  Notwithstanding the like-for-like improvements in scoring, it is clear that there is much work to be done before the food industry is effectively managing the business risks and opportunities associated with farm animal welfare. 

Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to the BBFAW noted: “Investors need to have confidence that companies are delivering the outcomes that they aspire to, in terms of improved farm animal welfare and in terms of better business risk management. The Benchmark exposes the gap between policies and performance, highlighting those companies whose governance processes work effectively and those that are not fit for purpose in a world where farm animal welfare is an increasingly important driver of business value.” 

Philip Lymbery, CEO at Compassion in World Farming added: “The Benchmark and the investors supporting it have played a key role in keeping farm animal welfare firmly on the corporate agenda. As this year’s report shows, we need to ensure that this attention delivers real and concrete benefits for animals farmed for food.”

The Benchmark is a long-term change initiative which is showing signs of progress. Of the 55 food companies that have been continuously benchmarked since 2012, 17 (31%) have moved up one Tier, 20 (36%) have moved up two Tiers and 8 (15%) have moved up three Tiers.  Furthermore, the average score for these trend companies has improved from 25% in 2012 to 48% in 2018.  These improvements are even more striking given the tightening of the Benchmark criteria over time and these companies should be congratulated. Their success demonstrates that BBFAW is driving higher farm animal welfare standards across the world’s leading food businesses and, while there is still much work to be done, there is both an appetite and a willingness for change.

BBFAW provides an annual, independent assessment of farm animal welfare management and performance in global food companies. It enables investors, companies, NGOs and other stakeholders to understand corporate practice and performance on farm animal welfare. More information on the programme can be found at www.bbfaw.com

Read 623 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 14:37

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