Businesses dawdle on animal welfare issues

  • 27/01/2016

By Matt Burrows

Leading food companies are getting better at looking after farm animals, but there's still plenty of room for improvement, according to World Animal Protection chief executive Steve McIvor.

While 69 percent of companies now have a policy that ensures welfare for farm animals -- up significantly from 46 percent in 2012 -- there are still a number of major businesses that do not have a published policy.

Among those are giants of the food industry, including Burger King, Starbucks and Domino's Pizza Group -- and Mr McIvor says that's simply not good enough, especially as consumers now expect animals to be treated humanely more than ever before.

"Farm animal welfare is riding high on the consumer agenda and we expect far higher standards for animals from the world's leading food companies," he said.

"With 70 billion animals farmed for food annually, poor animal welfare in industrial farming cannot be ignored.

"A better life for these animals relies upon global, large-scale changes across the industry."

Those large-scale changes have started to occur already, with global firms Marks & Spencer, Coop Group and Noble Foods forging well ahead in their animal welfare practice and reporting.

Despite 40 percent of businesses failing to provide adequate information on an animal welfare policy, improvements have been noted and Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare expert advisor Rory Sullivan says the future is looking bright.

"For the first time we are seeing global investors actively engage with companies to encourage them to improve their practices and reporting on farm animal welfare," she said.

"As we build investor awareness and understanding of farm animal welfare, we expect to see investor interest and, critically, action, increase over time."

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