The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare has completed its ninth cycle of reviewing food company websites and reporting on their animal welfare journey.
Despite the challenges of 2020, 23 businesses improved their ranking by at least one tier, with two of these businesses moving up two tiers. Unfortunately 15 businesses dropped at least one tier, but of these 11 could have dropped due to the change in methodology alone. That is to say, if they were not in a position to make any positive changes against their 2019 results (perhaps due to key staff being furloughed or attentions being diverted elsewhere), the change in methodology alone would have resulted in dropping a tier.
Plans are in place, subject to consultation, for two key changes in methodology for 2021, the assessment for which will take place during August and September 2021.
Performance Reporting and Impact will move from a 35% weighting to 45%, with the other three sections reducing 22% Management Commitment & Policy, 24% Governance & Management and 9% Leadership & Innovation.
For one of my clients, this methodology alone will result in a drop of 4 points.
Impact Ratings was introduced for the first time this year and has been reported out on a macro level; the results do not make good reading.
For 2021, this rating will be published at individual company level and with over 80% of companies currently sitting in the lowest rating, there is needs to be a focus on improving impact reporting.
Once the consultation document has been published, I would encourage all 150 companies involved in this year’s benchmarking exercise to respond; sharing your views is an important sign of engagement. Make this process something that happens with you and not to you.
The primary consideration is whether the proposed changes will have a positive effect on animal welfare and are practical and sustainable to achieve. The simple answer, in my view, is Yes.
The secondary consideration is what impact the changes will have on your ranking and what can be done to ensure you hold or improve your status. I would be happy to review your 2020 report to assess the likely impact these proposed changes will have on your ranking and provide a plan to progress through the tiers. Please get in contact email@example.com.
Meanwhile, I share top tips on how to improve your animal welfare position, I hope you find them valuable.
Review your animal welfare policy and make sure the scope is clearly documented.
Question: Does it cover ALL animal-based food products, whether main ingredient or centre of plate?
Considerations: If your business is known for chicken, but your full range includes bacon, milk shakes, buns with an egg-wash glaze and mayonnaise, have you considered all species or are some excluded?
Question: Does it cover ALL products?
Considerations: As a retailer, does your policy only cover your own-label products only or everything in your product portfolio?
If your store has a restaurant as well as selling food products; does the policy apply to both?
If you are a holding company, does the policy cover all your businesses/brands?
Question: Does if cover ALL geographies?
Considerations: If you have a global reach, does the policy cover all outlets, irrespective of location or local cultures?
Very few businesses can cover everything in one go; and that is fine. The important thing is to be clear and transparent. If the main policy only covers chicken, because that is what you are known for and know best, then state that. It does not have to mean the rest do not matter. Set realistic, timebound commitments for ingredients and report on progress. Without measurable goals, they are not commitments, merely dreams.
Make sure specific commitments are documented in your Animal Welfare policy.
It is acceptable to deliver a commitment via Farm Assurance, but your business must state what your commitment is and ensure any farm assurance schemes which you are accepting meet that requirement.
For example: If you want to make a commitment to maximum journey times of 8 hours, state this in your animal welfare policy and then ensure you purchase from a farm assurance scheme that specifies the same. If you source one protein from multiple countries and therefore potentially multiple farm assurance schemes, determine your commitment based on the highest permitted maximum. If one scheme is silent on journey times, then it may not be possible to make a commitment today, but it may be possible to assess the percentage of supply that is compliant and document a timebound commitment for the reaching 100%.
Performance Reporting does not have to be complicated.
If you typically source indoor chicken but have one product range that uses meat from free range systems, then report based on the volumes purchased.
If you source beef from multiple countries and only know that growth promotors are banned in Europe, then report based on the volume sourced from Europe compared with the rest of the world. Take care that you are reporting based on where the animals were farmed and not the last cutting plant or manufacturing site the material passed through.
I hope you found these tips useful. If you want more information on how to create and implement effective animal welfare policies within your business, please get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org.