McDonald's outperforms on animal welfare

By Ruth Williams

- Last updated on GMT

Happy meal? McDonald's scored highly on animal welfare
Happy meal? McDonald's scored highly on animal welfare
McDonald’s has been rated the highest in a benchmarking of global restaurant brands for implementing farm animal welfare practices in its policies, while M&B, Burger King, SSP and Whitbread are among the worst.

The benchmarking exercise has been carried out by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) to provide an annual review of how global food companies manage and report on farm animal welfare practices.

The benchmarking exercise ranks 80 global restaurants, wholesalers and producers for their management commitment, governance and management, and leadership and innovation in regard to animal welfare. Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, along with Coop Group (Switzerland) were found to have the highest standards of practices in the top tier.

McDonald’s was placed in the second highest tier having shown animal welfare is “integral to business strategy”.

It outperforms Subway and Wendy’s in the third tierthat have only demonstrated that a policy has been established but there is work to be done.

In the fourth tier Yum Brands – the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut shows it is “making progress on implementation” of farm animal welfare in its policies.

JD Wetherspoon. Starbucks Domino’s Pizza and Greggs were found to have farm animal welfare on the business agenda but with limited evidence of implementation.

Burger King, Mitchells & Butlers, SSP and Whitbread were each found to have “no evidence on the business agenda” to make a strong commitment to farm animal welfare. M&B has fallen from last year’s ranking to the bottom position.

Strong commitments

The report said: “The 24 companies in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 have made strong commitments to farm animal welfare, have well developed management systems and processes, and have a clear focus on farm animal welfare performance measures. These companies are broadly distributed across the three food industry subsectors, come from a range of countries and include public and privately-owned companies as well as co-operatives.”

“The key conclusion to be drawn from the 2014 Benchmark is that farm animal welfare continues to be a systemic risk that many companies in the food industry are either not effectively managing or not properly reporting. We are particularly concerned that most of the companies in Tier 6 and Tier 5 do not appear to have taken action to improve their management of farm animal welfare-related risks and opportunities, nor have they signalled that they intend to do so. There is also much to be learned from those companies that have achieved leadership positions in the Benchmark. We encourage investors to engage with these companies so that they can better understand the characteristics of good and best practice on farm animal welfare.”

The majority of companies (84 per cent) now recognise farm animal welfare as a business issue however only 64% have formalised their commitment in overarching policies or equivalent documents.

Furthermore, 59 per cent of companies fail to describe management responsibilities for farm animal welfare, and only 41% of companies publish farm animal welfare-related objectives and targets.

The report said: “These findings underline the immaturity of farm animal welfare as a business issue, with many companies having yet to establish robust systems and processes for managing, measuring and reporting on farm animal welfare.”

The report said it was “encouraging” to see the rise in standards among the majority of companies as it suggests companies are starting to respond to the growing interest being paid to the food industry – by investors, by consumers, by civil society, by the media – on farm animal welfare issues, and they are becoming more willing to publish information about their approach (even though the specific detail of their farm animal welfare commitments remains mostly narrowly defined).

 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) is designed to improve corporate reporting on farm animal welfare management, policies, practices, processes and performance and, over time, to contribute to improvements in the farm animal welfare practices and performance of food companies. It is devised to protect the welfare of the 70 billion animals farmed for meat, milk and eggs, and are typically raised in intense confinement.

A total of 80 global companies were included in the benchmark These were broadly spread across the three food industry subsectors of food retailers and wholesalers (26), restaurants and bars (24), and food producers (30) including 18 companies in the UK.

The report, which is compiled in collaboration with leading farm animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, and with support from Coller Capital, shows 45 per cent of the 65 companies assessed since the benchmark began in 2012 have moved up one tier at least.

Read the full report here

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