The winners of the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards were announced in late September. You might remember that I wrote about the awards back in July, highlighting the benefits that can accrue to business from this type of recognition.

In many parts of the world, welfare is high on the consumer — and hence retailer — agenda. Any company that does not meet the requirements of large retailers can quickly find itself struck off the suppler list, so producers really must move with market requirements, and be seen to be doing so. 

The Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards ceremony saw 19 Good Egg Awards and seven Good Chicken Awards presented. This was a pretty good showing by the poultry industry, I think, given that the number of awards presented across species totaled 50. Now in its sixth year, the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards recognizes companies that are committed to implementing substantial policy changes that result in positive impacts for farm animals. 

Recipients of the awards this year included Premier Foods, KFC, One Good Egg and the happy egg co. in recognition of their commitment to using cage-free eggs. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver received a Good Chicken Award for the development of a range of higher welfare chicken products with Moy Park, and Chipotle Mexican Grill was recognized for its commitment to using RSPCA Freedom Food certified chicken.

In the case of Jamie Oliver and Moy Park, they joined forces to develop a range of higher welfare chicken products which were launched in June. Compassion in World Farming says that the two parties share an interest in higher welfare and tasty food that can be produced on a scale making quality food attainable for a larger market. The range offers consumers an ethical choice when buying ready-to-cook meals. Oliver commented that while he was as committed as ever to organic and free range, what he was really passionate about was raising the bar of “standard chicken” to a completely different level that is affordable.

Steve McIvor, director of food business, Compassion in World Farming, commented that the organization congratulated all the winners for the huge difference they were making to the lives of thousands of farm animals. 

Good for business 

This is great; nobody wants to think of animals suffering, but there is an increasingly important business rationale to working to high welfare standards. Consumers are ever-more demanding when it comes to welfare, sustainability and the environment. Their degree of understanding is another matter, but when there is a perception that welfare friendly, organic, etc., are better for the planet and better for health — and this is the case in many countries — food producers ignore these beliefs at their peril. 

And trends spread quickly. I was talking to a friend the other day who had arrived in the UK from Brazil and who was fully up-to-date with UK celebrity chefs, including Jamie Oliver.

Influencers increasingly have a global reach, and people love celebrity, so what are consumer concerns in one market can become apparent in others at the flick of switch. We do live in a global market where global loyalty, if not encouraged, can disappear without notice.

And talking of Brazil, Brasil Foods has been shortlisted as one of the most sustainable large corporations in the upcoming International Green Awards, which aims to recognize the most sustainable organizations across the world. Here is a company in a developing country taking into account.

Addressing welfare, sustainability, carbon footprints and many of the issues that were seen as fringe not so many years ago, is still a way, in many instances, of differentiating, but there will come a time, perhaps not very far in the future, when addressing these issues will become standard practice. And for those companies that have not embraced them, what will their futures be?

Many years ago, I worked in a publishing company that refused to have an email address or an Internet connection. When I asked for a connection, they said: “We really can’t see the value of that.” The company has since closed down and numerous publications have been sold. 

Minority interests and activities can grow and become standard in everyday life. We ignore them at our peril.