I often hear it said that the effort made by producers, be it of meat or of eggs, is not recognized. This is especially the case where high welfare standards are followed, and going the extra mile on farm is not taken into consideration by those companies that supply the final consumer.
Producing to higher standards takes time and money, and there has to be a payback for making this extra effort. Higher welfare standards may be popular with consumers, but few producers sell directly to the end user. There is usually someone in the middle and this is where the problem often lies – and the recognition really due to producers accrues.
In the UK, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, RSPCA, is again holding its annual Good Business Awards. Aimed squarely at the middle man, the initiative could, however, feed back into recognition for primary producers. The awards scheme seeks to recognize businesses in the food industry who consider animal welfare by sourcing food products in an ethical way. Best practice is being celebrated among restaurants, pubs, supermarkets, retailers and caterers.
The RSPCA notes that telling customers where their food comes from helps to raise awareness of the importance of higher animal welfare and that provenance and labeling remain a priority. Its thinking goes that encouraging consumers to purchase ethically and supplying them with higher welfare products will feed back to farming practice.
The RSPCA Good Business Award can give a company the opportunity to stand out among competitors. Finalists and winners become part of a unique club of businesses that can say they have been recognized by the RSPCA. The winners will be announced at a gala evening in London in late October.
If there is recognition of the middleman, this will at least help to ensure that he or she continues to source from those suppliers that make consumers happy. This may not give producers much recognition, but it can be hoped that it at least helps to bring reward in the form of continued business.