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New Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare reveals progress on commitments but lack of implementation

News Section Icon Published 4/25/2024

The latest Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) reveals that while most global food giants (95%) are addressing the importance of animal welfare with policy commitments the majority are not yet putting these commitments into practice.

The benchmark, which was first launched in 2012, ranks 150 global food producers, retailers and food-service companies – including McDonalds, Tesco and Tyson Foods – on their farm animal welfare policies and practices. It is supported by partners Compassion in World Farming and FOUR PAWS and by a coalition of institutional investors, managing over $2.3 trillion in assets who will engage with the companies in the year ahead to drive improvement.

Following a period of development, BBFAW has been relaunched with tougher assessment criteria setting a new baseline for animal welfare improvement. Notably, there is an increased focus on ‘Performance Impact’, measuring how well companies are delivering on their welfare commitments. For example, progress on issues such as the time farm animals spend in transit or, or the percent of a supply chain that is cage free.

For the first time, businesses have also been asked about their recognition of the need to reduce reliance on animal-sourced foods and diversify into alternative proteins.

The key insights from the report include that:

  • 95% of global food companies now recognise ‘farm animal welfare’ as a core business issue, with Marks & Spencer (UK), Premier Foods (UK) and Waitrose (UK) as the highest-ranked companies in ‘Tier 2’. As expected none achieved the highest ‘Tier 1’ status following the toughening of the methodology.
  • No companies achieved the highest rating of ‘A’ or 'B’ for ‘Performance Impact’. The companies rated most highly in ‘C’ were: Marks & Spencer (UK), Groupe Danone (FR), Premier Foods (UK), Waitrose (UK), Cranswick PLC (UK) and Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund (Switzerland)
  • 19 global food companies, including Domino’s Pizza Inc (US) and Yum China Holdings (the owners of KFC in China), have yet to publish a formal farm animal welfare policy.
  • 25% of benchmarked companies recognise the need to reduce reliance on animal sourced foods and diversify into alternative proteins, with 21 companies including Greggs, Sodexo and Carrefour publishing time-bound targets.
  • A $2.3 trillion investor coalition is set to engage with food companies about the BBFAW results. “Poor standards of farm animal welfare don’t just harm animals, they threaten long-term value, risking outbreaks of disease, food recalls, regulatory and reputational risks,” said Abigail Herron, Aviva Investors, part of the investor coalition.

There is also work to be done to address specific animal welfare issues, including:

  • Routine mutilation: A majority of companies (52%) have no policy to manage routine mutilations - such as branding cattle with hot irons or tail docking in pigs.
  • Live transport: Only 27% of assessed companies report that live transportation of farm animals is restricted to short journeys only (i.e. 4 hours or less for poultry and rabbits, and 8 hours for other species).
  • Antibiotics: Only 40% of companies have commitments in place to end prophylactic and routine metaphylactic antibiotic use – despite the risk of surging antibiotic resistance.
  • Close confinement: Only 18% of companies, including Tyson Foods and WH Group (which includes large US pork producer Smithfield) have no policy commitment to end the use of close confinement. And just 9% of companies with pigs in their supply chain (13 of 137 companies) have set credible targets to end the use of ‘sow stalls’ or ‘gestation crates’ – metal enclosures barely bigger than an adult pig.

Nicky Amos, Executive Director of the BBFAW said: “The BBFAW results show that for 95% of food companies protecting farm animal welfare is not about businesses doing good; it’s about good business. The Benchmark’s criteria have been strengthened in 2024, so it’s encouraging that several companies, including the three that achieved ‘Tier 2’ status, are leading by example and showing that high levels of progress are possible. It’s also highly encouraging that 1 in 4 food companies recognises the need to innovate to reduce reliance on animal-sourced foods as part of long-term plans to create sustainable food supply chains. Today’s analysis shows there’s also a long way to go for the food sector to turn awareness and commitment into demonstrable animal welfare benefits, with large numbers of farmed animals still suffering from inhumane practices such as close confinement or routine mutilations.” 

Philip Lymbery, Global Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming, said: “There’s a high cost to poor animal husbandry. It not only harms animals but fuels the climate crisis, drives deforestation, biodiversity loss and - with its massive use of antibiotics - poses a real threat to human health. The Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare continues to play a critical role in driving higher standards in the world’s leading food businesses, showing the benefits of this approach, and providing a vital yardstick to inform investor choices.”

Josef Pfabigan, CEO Four Paws, added: “After a year’s break it is good to see the BBFAW report coming back strongly, as 2024 marks a pivotal year for animals with many elections around the globe highlighting the importance of improved legislation on animal welfare. FOUR PAWS’ vision is a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. More food companies need to work towards the same goal, which is a reduction in produced animals. Progress on this goal helps reduce the enormous suffering billions of farm animals are facing, especially in the Global North. It also helps fight a key driver of the climate crisis as animal agriculture makes up around a sixth of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, FOUR PAWS supports BBFAW’s work to encourage higher animal welfare and an immediate transition towards sustainable and cruelty-free food systems globally. Only together are we able to achieve that.”

The full report is available here.

The report launch event is taking place on 25 April 2024 at 4pm BST. Visit here to register to watch online.


For more information, please email or call +44 (0)1483 521 615.

Notes to editors

  • Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is a global movement dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the U.K., it has offices across Europe, the U.S., China and South Africa. Our established international Food Business programme aims to achieve an holistic approach to sustainable food production by driving transformational change for farmed animals, reducing our reliance on animal-sourced foods, and moving the food industry towards more regenerative, nature-positive farming.
  • FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.
  • The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) was formed in 2012 and is the globally recognised investor framework for assessing the quality of companies’ practices, processes and performance on farm animal welfare. In 2023 criteria for the benchmark were reset to set a new baseline, hence year-on-year comparisons for companies are not available. Companies were assessed on their approach to managing farm animal welfare in five areas: (1) Policy Commitments, (2) Governance and Management, (3) Targets (4) Performance Impact; and (5) Reducing Reliance on animal sourced foods.
  • The BBFAW assessment criteria have changed substantially since the last benchmark (2021) to put a greater focus on the Benchmark’s role in driving meaningful change and ensuring tangible improvements to the lives of farm animals reared for food. In particular the number of questions on ‘Performance Impact’ increased from 10 to 20, and these questions now represent 55% of the overall benchmark score (compared to 45% in 2021). There criteria have also seen the introduction of new questions and a new pillar of the assessment criteria focused on reducing reliance on animal-sourced foods in human diets. These changes have led to resetting of the benchmark, with the BBFAW 2023 results representing a new baseline. Hence year-on-year comparisons in in areas such as overall average score, or in changes to companies’ Tier rankings have not been highlighted this year.
  • Company assessments were based on information published by companies on the date of their assessments. All companies were assessed during the period from October to December 2023.
  • More information on the programme can be found at

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