The world’s leading poultry producers’ approach to animal welfare has been highlighted in the latest Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), published by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.

The independent assessment is based on information that the companies make publicly available, such as formal reports, on their corporate or consumer websites or via materials such as press releases. Companies are grouped by tier, with Tier 1 being the highest, and Tier 6 the lowest.

How they rank

There are numerous smaller poultry producers that make the list, but looking at the biggest chicken-producing concerns, the latest edition of the BBFAW has found the following.

No major poultry producers attained Tier 1 status, which is deemed as taking a “Leadership” position in animal welfare. The highest ranking major poultry producer in this year’s benchmark was Perdue Farms of the U.S., which was placed in Tier 2, i.e. where welfare is deemed to be central to a company’s business strategy. Perdue Farms first appeared in the 2017 benchmark, also being classified at Tier 2.

Tier 3, which comprises those companies for which welfare is established but where the assessors deem there is more work to be done, is home to three companies in the latest report, Brazil’s BRF and JBS, and Tyson of the U.S.

BRF first entered the ranking in 2014, at Tier 4, subsequently moving up to Tier 3 and then Tier 2. This year, however, it has slipped one rung in the ranking.

Similarly, JBS also first entered the ranking in 2014, deemed Tier 3 but subsequently rising to Tier 2. However, it has now fallen back to Tier 3, with the BBFAW placing an alert on the company due some of its pre-slaughter practices.

Tyson Foods’ initial assessment, in 2012, saw it ranked at Tier 4. Since then, it has been consistently ranked Tier 3.

Tier 4, which is home to those companies deemed to be making progress on implementation, includes Thailand’s CP Foods and France’s LDC.

Assessment for both companies started in 2016, with both being ranked Tier 6.

Tier 5, which contains those companies deemed to have animal welfare on the agenda, but that show limited evidence of implementation, is home to only one major poultry producer, the U.S.’s Sanderson Farms, which holds the same position that it attained in the previous report.

Lastly, Tier 6 is home to three major companies, Mexico’s Industrias Bachoco, and China’s New Hope Liuhe and Wen’s Food Group. These are companies, the BBFAW reports, that have no evidence of welfare on their business agenda.

Working effectively or …

The BBFAW enables investors, companies and NGOs and other stakeholders to understand corporate practice and performance on farm animal welfare.

According to Rory Sullivan, expert adviser to the BBFAW, investors need to have confidence that companies are delivering the outcomes that they aspire to, in terms of improved farm animal welfare, and in terms of better business risk management.

The Benchmark, he continued, exposes the gap between policies and performance, highlighting those companies whose governance processes work effectively and those that are not fit for purpose in a world where farm animal welfare is an increasingly important driver of business value.