McDonald’s beats KFC, Burger King, Subway and Starbucks on animal welfare

22 February 2018

London – Today (February 22 - 2018) the leading global measure of how companies perform on farm animal welfare has revealed that McDonald’s has outperformed its global rivals.

The sixth Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report launches at the London Stock Exchange today, ranking 110 global food companies on farm animal welfare standards in tiers 1 to 6, with tier 1 being the best, and tier 6 the worst.

While no fast food company has achieved tier one status, McDonald’s - who feed 68 million people (approximately 1 percent of the world's population) per day - is towards the top of the ranking in tier 2, having made farm animal welfare a part of its business strategy.

McDonald’s has a universal Animal Health and Welfare Policy and has made important commitments to animal welfare. These include the sourcing of eggs from cage-free hens in the UK, Europe and New Zealand and the sourcing of higher welfare pork in the UK, as well as aims in the US to phase out cages for pregnant pigs, and the move toward sourcing cage free eggs in the US, Canada and Australia.

Despite the company’s achievement in the BBFAW Benchmark, McDonald’s still has a significant way to go to improve the welfare of the millions of meat chickens served up in its restaurants around the world. Of particular concern is the company’s lack of progress in addressing the chicken breed issue. An industry genetic arms race has led to the widespread use of fast-growth chickens whose legs can buckle under their own body weight and who can suffer from a range of leg, heart and lung problems. Furthermore, McDonald’s is yet to commit to giving these animals sufficient space to move around and behave more naturally.

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said:

“It’s clear that fast food companies can no longer afford to ignore animal welfare. Consumers are showing that they increasingly care about the welfare of animals when they are deciding where to eat.

“McDonald’s have made some strides to improving conditions for farm animals in certain markets. However, they still have a lot more work to do to reduce the suffering of factory farmed chickens, who live in conditions that are totally unacceptable. Like any other animal, chickens must have the chance to live decent lives, free from pain and stress.”

“Over 50 companies, including Subway and Burger King, have committed to make meaningful improvements to the lives of chickens and we are looking to McDonald’s to show leadership on this issue too.”

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare shows that there is more work to be done by other household names, which sit towards the bottom of the ranking. Brands such as KFC (in tier 5) show limited evidence that animal welfare is a key issue for their business at all, while fast-food favourites, Subway and Burger King, both rank in tier 4.

Meanwhile, UK-based pizza chain, Domino’s Pizza Company, having moved up three tiers this year to tier 3 has an established approach to farm animal welfare and performs significantly better than its rival Pizza Hut, and global coffee chain, Starbucks, which both sit in tier 5. For these companies, farm animal welfare is on the business agenda but there is limited evidence of implementation.

Farm Animal Welfare Ranking (limited to selected companies)

Tier 1 – Leadership Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Co-op Group (Switzerland), Cranswick, Migros

Tier 2 - Integral to business strategy

McDonald’s

Tier 3 – Established but work to be done Domino’s Pizza Company

Tier 4 – Making progress on implementation

Subway, Burger King (Restaurant Brands International)

Tier 5 – On the business agenda but limited

evidence of implementation

KFC (Yum Brands), Pizza Hut (Yum Brands), Starbucks

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

Mars Inc, Muller

British and Swiss companies dominate tier 1. Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Co-op Group, Cranswick and Migros have all taken the lead on farm animal welfare. Surprisingly, mega-brands Mars Inc and Muller both rank at the bottom in tier 6, providing limited, if any evidence that they recognise farm animal welfare – something their customers will no-doubt be very concerned about.

Steve McIvor continues:

“Our aim with this report was always to encourage better disclosure of companies’ standards — which will encourage others to act.

“Global companies like Mars, Kraft Heinz and Starbucks are really trailing behind. We hope to see them and others working hard to improve standards for farm animals, and rise up the ranks in future years.”

The report shows that many of the 110 global food companies covered by the Benchmark are integrating farm animal welfare into their management and reporting processes.

· 47% of these companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare.

· 72% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.

· 87 companies (79%) have made commitments to the avoidance of close confinement in one or more of the major markets in which they operate. The most common corporate commitments relate to the elimination of cages for laying hens and the elimination of sow stalls. For more information, please visit www.WorldAnimalProtection.org/BBFAW

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Notes to Editors

· The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare was founded by leading animal welfare organisations, World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming in 2012, with Coller Capital joining as an additional partner in 2014

· 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 was founded in 2012 by leading animal welfare organisations, Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection. In 2014, Coller Capital joined the BBFAW as an additional partner

· BBFAW provides an annual, objective, independent assessment of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment, performance and disclosure in 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

· 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 aims to drive higher farm animal welfare standards in the world’s leading food businesses

· The 2017 Benchmark covers 110 companies across 18 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 (private companies, partnerships and cooperatives)

· 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. The assessments were based on information published by companies

· The company-by-company results are presented in Attachment 1 to this release

· The average score across all companies in the 2017 Benchmark was 37%, compared to 34% in 2016 and 26% in 2012. The average scores by sub-sector are broadly similar, with retailers and wholesalers scoring 37%, producers and manufacturers scoring 38% and restaurants and bars scoring 34%

· Cranswick, Coop Group (Switzerland), Marks & Spencer, Migros and Waitrose retain their Tier 1 position. In Tier 2 for the second year running are BRF, Cargill, The Co-operative Food (UK), Greggs, Tesco, Unilever and McDonald’s. Danish Crown, J Sainsbury, and JBS join the Tier for the first time, climbing one place from Tier 3, and US-based Perdue Farms joins the Tier as a new company to the BBFAW in 2017. Noble Foods also appears in Tier 2 having dropped moved down from Tier 1

· In the 2017 Benchmark, 26 companies have moved up at least one tier on BBFAW’s six tier assessment framework. These companies include Domino’s Pizza Company and JD Wetherspoon, who have both moved up three tiers, and Casino, Elior and ICA Gruppen who have moved up two tiers. Other companies that have improved their performance include: Compass Group, J Sainsbury, Kraft Heinz, REWE Group and Whitbread

· In the 2017 Benchmark, eight companies have dropped one tier. These are: Edeka Group, Ferrero, Mars Inc, New Hope Group, Noble Foods, Subway, Sysco Corporation and Wendy’s Corporation

· In a recent BBFAW survey of the companies covered by the Benchmark, 78% of respondents identified customer and client interest as the most important influences on their approaches to farm animal welfare. The survey identified the other important drivers of action as media interest (49%), NGO pressure (46%) and investor pressure (46%). Respondents pointed to investor support for the Global Investor Statement on Farm Animal Welfare and investor participation in the Global Investor Collaboration on Farm Animal Welfare as tangible examples of investor interest in the issue of farm animal welfare, and as enabling them to understand investor expectations in this area.

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said: “It’s clear that fast food companies can no longer afford to ignore animal welfare. Consumers are showing that they increasingly care about the welfare of animals when they are deciding where to eat. “McDonald’s have made some strides to improving conditions for farm animals in certain markets. However, they still have a lot more work to do to reduce the suffering of factory farmed chickens, who live in conditions that are totally unacceptable. Like any other animal, chickens must have the chance to live decent lives, free from pain and stress.” “Over 50 companies, including Subway and Burger King, have committed to make meaningful improvements to the lives of chickens and we are looking to McDonald’s to show leadership on this issue too.”
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