17/06/2022 – Agriculture / Animal Welfare / Compassion / Farming / Awards
Positive signs of global change reflected in Compassion’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards
Compassion in World Farming welcomed the return of its prestigious Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, at a ceremony in London this week, with accolades bestowed on 27 organisations, whose efforts are set to benefit over 138 million farm animals each year.
The Awards are the pinnacle of Compassion’s Food Business programme, providing the perfect opportunity to showcase the work of food businesses around the world that make genuine and meaningful improvements to the lives of farmed animals, and the sustainability of their supply chains.
When Compassion launched its Food Business programme over 12 years ago, the organisation’s mission was to raise the baseline standards for farmed animals throughout the supply chains of leading food companies. Given the urgency of the climate, nature, and health crisis, the programme is evolving to encapsulate a more holistic approach to a future fit food system, encouraging transformational change for farm animals, a reduction in our reliance on animal sourced foods, and a move towards more regenerative, nature-friendly farming.
Many of the award winners at this year’s event reflect that shift in approach.
Compass Group (UK&I) is “truly leading the way”
Compass Group (UK &I) was awarded the first full Planet Friendly Award, achieving a GOLD level for a 2025 commitment to reduce its animal sourced proteins by 25 per cent. The Group is “truly leading the way, tackling head on the issues of farm animal welfare, protein diversification/meat reduction and a shift towards regenerative agriculture,” Compassion said in a statement.
Compass has a 2025 global cage-free egg commitment and Better Chicken Commitments in the US and Europe, raising baseline standards for poultry. Published in May 2021, the Group’s Net Zero plan includes a commitment to switch from animal sourced proteins to 40-per-cent plant-based by 2030 (and at least 25 per cent by 2025), with a further pledge that 70 per cent of the Group’s top five food categories will be sourced from regenerative agriculture by 2030.
With this work, Compass Group (UK & I) is setting an excellent example of a holistic approach to sustainable food production – and one that other food companies could adopt, according to Compassion.
“Successfully reducing our reliance on animal protein is essential for Compass if we are to deliver on our commitment to reach Climate Net Zero by 2030,” advised Carolyn Ball, Director for Delivery of Net Zero at Compass Group. “To be recognised by Compassion in World Farming is to the credit of all those working so hard across the business in pursuit of a just transition.”
Driving the organic egg market, and sustainable change
There were, however, inspirational examples from the producer sector too.
Two companies were presented with Sustainable Food and Farming Awards this year: Hilltribe Organics Ltd (Producer Award) and Laiteries H. Triballat-Rians (Corporate Award). This Award recognises smaller producers and larger companies that are taking steps to produce higher welfare meat, dairy and eggs in ways that protect, improve, and restore wildlife and the environment.
Hilltribe Organics Ltd (HTO) is a high impact social enterprise formed to sustain rural farming villages in Thailand via organic and regenerative agriculture. HTO’s successful business model, which addresses more than two-thirds of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, involves every aspect of the value chain. It not only helps farmers – many of them women – get into production by supplying the hens and feed, but also helps market the organic eggs to consumers and retailers. This provides a regular income and financial stability for the hill tribe people.
By driving the organic egg market, HTO has helped to significantly reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides (down by 70 per cent and 80 per cent respectively) leading to cleaner soil, water and air. In addition, it promotes reforestation and rewilding, utilising local agro-ecological conditions to the full. The hens are raised in the hills with plenty of access to trees and shelter; there is no use of antibiotics and HTO grows turmeric to improve hens’ immune systems. “This social enterprise is truly inspirational and provides a successful business model that could be scaled up and adopted in other parts of the world,” according to Compassion.
Co-Founder and CEO of HTO, Richard Blossom, said his business was “delighted” to receive the CIWF Sustainable Food and Farming Award. “We have always believed in the highest animal welfare and the most sustainable and organic farming practices and that they can benefit both the environment and the hill tribe people while supporting a successful business model,” he remarked. “We are gratified to see the HTO model is even starting to attract farmer family children back to the hills. Our farms require relatively little land compared to other agricultural uses and helps protect wildlife habitats in the areas around our farms. This award will help us continue to improve the lives of hill tribe people, to increase the market for organics (further reducing the use of chemical fertilisers/pesticides) and to strengthen the model to the point where we can expand to new markets.”
Promoting sustainable practices from field to plate
The corporate winner of the Sustainable Food and Farming Award was Laiteries H. Triballat-Rians, a French dairy company representing 450 producers (cows and goats). Working with the help of NGOs and animal welfare organisations, the form is encouraging the development of pasture access for 100-per-cent of their farms and working towards increasing the longevity of the cows and goats in their supply. They are also phasing out deforesting soy in feed and planting up to 40km of new hedges, to reduce their environmental footprint and protect biodiversity. The company’s ‘Sustainable Livestock Farming’ project was judged as a good example of how a dairy group can help its farmers adopt better animal welfare, environmental protection and sustainable farming measures.
"In order to promote sustainable practices from the field to the plate, we have co-constructed our commitments for sustainable and responsible farming with the nine producer organisations representing the 450 affiliated milk producers, as well as with NGOs, notably Compassion in World Farming,” advised Henri Triballat, Director of Milk Production at Laiteries H. Triballat-Rians.
“This ‘Sustainable Food & Farming Award’ is proof of our collective actions and commitments to animal welfare and a more sustainable model. It also encourages us to continue our efforts,” he continued. “It is together, through regular exchanges with milk producers, working groups with experts and monitoring the progress made, that these commitments to sustainable livestock farming will succeed.”
Advocating for ‘the End of the Cage Age’
The Awards this year have demonstrated the truly international nature of the cage-free movement with winners from right across the globe. Good Egg Awards were presented to companies in Japan, China, Spain and Brazil, and three of them were manufacturers/producers.
Grupo Huevos Guillén, the leading egg producer in Spain, appreciates the increasing social awareness regarding animal welfare. The firm has committed to producing 100-per-cent of their eggs and egg products in cage-free systems by 2025, and became the first Spanish company to receive a Good Egg Award for extending its commitment to phase out combination systems, which restrict hen movement, from its supply.
Chinese producer PianGuan Yong Ao received a Good Egg Award for its cage-free egg production. The company owns eight aviary barn systems housing a total of 160,000 laying hens, which they operate at a lower stocking density (than EU minimal legal requirements) and without any combination systems, allowing more freedom of movement to the birds.
La marca del consumatore enables consumers to choose the characteristics of the products they want to see on-shelf. In the case of eggs, consumers voted for eggs from organic farms, with more space for the hens to move around, protection of the male chick, compostable packaging, and fair remuneration for farmers. The project of 'La marca del consumatore' has been having success in other European countries, such as France, and this year the firm received a Good Egg Award for their excellent work in Italy.
A Good Turkey Award was presented to Blédina – a leader in the French baby food market, and part of Danone Group's division Specialized Nutrition. As part of the company’s commitment to better animal welfare, all of its beef cattle and lambs have access to pasture, and it uses only cage-free eggs. Through this new Award, Compassion is now recognising Blédina's policy to use only meat from free-range turkeys.
For many years, Compassion has been advocating the ‘End of the Cage Age’, and progress is undeniable in the areas of egg-laying hens, farrowing sows, and increasingly farmed rabbits. Both BreFood in Germany and Wisium in France were awarded Rabbit Innovation Awards. They have each developed innovative cage-free rabbit rearing systems with permanent access to wintergardens, where rabbits have the choice to go outside in an enriched outdoor patio area to enjoy fresh air and sunlight.
“For more than a decade, rabbit welfare has been at the center of our business model,” stressed Petar Perkovic of BreFood GmbH. “As early as 2012, we have worked with universities, certification institutes and animal welfare organisations such as Four Paws and CIWF to introduce a ground-reared keeping system that restored the trust of the consumers and the industry when it came to rabbit meat,” he advised.
“Today, as market leader in Germany, we work with almost all the major retailers to provide customers with high-quality meat raised in an animal-friendly way. To this day, our Rabbit Care standard is the role model in the market,” he continued. “But we also see it as our responsibility to be leading the way and keep raising the bar. With our new Rabbit Care Premium keeping system, we’ve worked with our long-term partner in China to provide our rabbits with permanent access to generous outdoor areas, where they can enjoy fresh air and sunlight at their convenience. A keeping system of this kind, and at this scale, is one-of-a-kind at the moment,” he enthused, adding: “We are proud to be partnering with retailers who are just as passionate about animal welfare as we are, putting it in the center of our joint business practices.”
Special Recognition Awards
Two Special Recognition Awards were presented this year to MOWI ASA, one of the world’s biggest seafood companies, and Norsk Kylling, a leading Norwegian chicken producer.
MOWI ASA is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon, producing around 465,000 metric tons of salmon (gwt) per annum. As awareness around fish sentience continues to grow, MOWI was applauded for becoming the first producer to make global welfare commitments on the rearing and slaughter of Atlantic salmon. The company’s global commitment is set to benefit approximately 122 million salmon per year and provides an excellent example for other producers to follow.
Dr Gordon Ritchie, Group Manager Fish Health & Welfare at Mowi ASA commented that his company was “very proud” to receive the prestigious award from CIWF, for recognition of its standard on the humane slaughter of fish using percussive stunning. “This policy, which matches CIWF’s Flagship recommendation, is applied to all our ocean-reared salmon globally, harvested on an annual basis. By recognising the importance of fish sentience, Mowi has implemented several other husbandry standards directed towards the welfare and well-being of our fish,” he advised.
“As the largest producer of ocean-reared salmon, it is our responsibility to develop industry-leading standards on welfare and sustainable practices, and to make continuous improvements – all underpinned by investment in robust research and development by dedicated teams across the entire value chain,” Mr Ritchie continued. “Mowi would like to thank CIWF for their continued direction and consultation in leading us forward and targeting other Flagship recommendations.”
Meanwhile, Norsk Kylling’s award was bestowed in recognition for the company converting 100 per cent of its chicken production to the higher welfare criteria of European Chicken Commitment, and for combining this move with sustainability benefits. The company’s transition was achieved as part of their ‘Green Value Chain’ project, which has seen Norsk Kylling adopt a holistic approach to sustainable and higher welfare production. It demonstrates that animal welfare, sustainable food production, and profitability can all be achieved simultaneously in broiler chicken production. As part of this process, the company has also reached another major milestone as its greenfield processing plant is today completely powered by renewable energy.
Hilde Talseth – Director of Sustainable Innovation at Norsk Kylling and General Manager of Hugaas Rugeri, said her company worked actively in all parts of our value chain to find new, innovative, responsible, and sustainable solutions. “Through co-operation and a circular mindset, and in close collaboration with competent and engaged people, we have successfully established a promising project portfolio. This award is for us a great acknowledgement that will add to our motivation as we keep working to build the world’s best value chain in food industry.”
Finally, seven farms in China were awarded Good Pig Production Awards, with three of them achieving the maximum five-star rating for not using sow stalls and farrowing crates, or practising tail docking and teeth clipping, and for ensuring ample bedding and manipulable material is provided to the pigs throughout their entire lives.
Dr Tracey Jones, Global Director of Food Business at Compassion, concluded: “This year’s Awards have been truly inspirational, with companies showing genuine leadership and motivation at a time when the global food industry has been confronted with serious issues following the pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine. The continued progress for animal welfare is heartening, whilst the ongoing work in the future food space is encouraging and signals that the food industry is ready to tackle one of the biggest challenges of our time – how to build a humane, sustainable, and resilient food system for all.”
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