BBFAW 2019

Amazon (owner of Whole Foods), Walmart, Mars, Starbucks, Burger King, Subway and Papa John’s failing on animal welfare

Press release

Animal welfare is not a priority for some of the world’s biggest food and restaurant brands, reveals a report launching today (26 February 2019).

Animal welfare is not a priority for some of the world’s biggest food and restaurant brands, reveals a report launching today (26 February 2019).

The shocking new report finds that farm animal welfare isn’t even on the agenda for some of these well-known and trusted companies, in contrast to other leading household names which are working hard to improve animal welfare in their supply chains.

The seventh Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), backed by World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming, is the leading global measure on farm animal welfare. It ranks 150 global food companies on farm animal welfare standards in tiers 1 to 6, with tier 1 being the best, and tier 6 the worst.

US giant Mars and one of Europe’s biggest supermarket chains E.Leclerc, both rank at the very bottom of the table in tier 6 and show little regard for animal welfare in their businesses. The report found that there is no evidence farm animal welfare is on the business agenda at these companies.

Amazon, the world’s biggest company and owner of Whole Foods Market, fared only slightly better and achieved a tier 5 status as did Starbucks, Papa Johns, Subway, Campbell Soup and Hershey. For these companies, farm animal welfare is on the business agenda but there is limited evidence of implementation.

The Benchmark shows that there is more work to be done by other household names, which sit towards the bottom of the ranking. Multinational retail giant Walmart and fast-food giant Burger King achieved only tier 4 status. German supermarket chain Aldi and fast food goliath McDonald’s both rank mid-table in tier 3 and have established policies but more work to do.

British-Dutch giant Unilever, that sells numerous household name food brands such as Ben and Jerry’s and Hellmann’s and ranked highly in tier 2 as did French giant Danone – both showed farm animal welfare is integral to their business strategy. Also doing well in tier 2 were British supermarket giants Morrisons and Sainsburys. Whitbread, the UK's largest operator of hotels and restaurants also ranked in tier 2 along with Greggs, the largest bakery chain in the UK.

British companies dominate the top of the table, in tier 1. Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Cranswick (one of the largest food producers in Britain), Noble Foods (makers of GU Puds) have all taken the lead on farm animal welfare.

Farm Animal Welfare Ranking (limited to selected companies)

Tier 1 – Leadership

Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Noble Foods, Cranswick 

Tier 2 - Integral to business strategy

Unilever, Danone, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Whitbread, Greggs

Tier 3 – Established but work to be done

McDonald’s, Aldi

Tier 4 – Making progress on implementation

Walmart, Burger King (Restaurant Brands International)

Tier 5 – On the business agenda but limited evidence of implementation

Amazon (owner of Whole Foods), Starbucks, Pappa John’s, Subway, Campbell Soup, Hershey

Tier 6 – No evidence it’s on the business agenda

Mars Inc, E.Leclerc

Overall, company practice continues to show consistent year-on-year improvement since the Benchmark launched in 2012:

  • 53% of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare,
  • 71% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare,
  • of the 55 food companies that have been continuously included in the Benchmark since 2012, 17 (31%) have moved up one tier, 20 (36%) have moved up two tiers and 8 (15%) have moved up three tiers.

These improvements are striking given the tightening of the Benchmark criteria and the increased emphasis on performance reporting and impact over this time. However, 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.

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said:

If you care about animals then you really should think twice about handing your money over to some of these retailers and restaurants. Giants like Burger King and Walmart must take animal welfare much more seriously.

Food producers, supermarkets and restaurant chains can no longer afford to ignore animal welfare as consumers now have more information at their fingertips and are showing they increasingly care about the welfare of animals when they are deciding where to shop and eat.

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Notes to Editors:  

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) is the globally recognised investor framework for assessing the quality of companies’ practices, processes and performance on farm animal welfare.

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, founded in 2012, is supported by its founding partners the leading animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.

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.

Through the annual benchmark, extensive engagement programmes with investors and with companies, and the production of guidance and other materials for companies and investors, BBFAW has driven higher farm animal welfare standards across the world’s leading food businesses.

The 2018 Benchmark covers 150 companies across 23 countries. The companies represent three primary food business sectors: (a) food retailers and wholesalers; (b) restaurants and bars (a category that includes many of the food service providers), and (c) food producers and manufacturers. The list includes listed and non-listed companies.

Companies were measured on their approach to managing farm animal welfare in four areas: (1) Management Commitment and Policy, (2) Governance and Policy Implementation, (3) Leadership and Innovation, and (4) Performance Reporting and Impact.

In line with the BBFAW’s objective to drive improvements in the welfare of animals farmed for food, the weighting of the performance reporting and impact questions in the 2018 Benchmark was increased to 35% of the total score (up from 24% in 2017).

Company assessments were based on information published by companies on the date of their assessments. All companies were assessed during the period from 1st August to 30 September 2018.

Cranswick, Coop Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer and Waitrose retain their Tier 1 position, while Cargill, The Co-operative Food (UK), Greggs, Tesco and Unilever have retained their Tier 2 position.

In the 2018 Benchmark, 19 companies have moved up at least one tier on BBFAW’s six tier assessment framework. These companies include Casino, Chipotle Mexican Grill, CP Foods, Dunkin’ Brands, Groupe Auchan, Groupe Danone, Kraft Heinz, Les Mousquetaires, Groupe Lactalis, LDC, Lidl, Noble Foods, Publix Super Markets, Vion Food Group, Wesfarmers, Whitbread, Wm Morrison, Groupo Veronesi and Yum! Brands.

In the 2018 Benchmark, 12 companies have dropped one tier. These are: Ahold Delhaize, BRF, Danish Crown, Dean Foods, General Mills, JBS, Kaufland, McDonald’s, Migros, Subway, Sysco Corp and Walmart.

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