01.03.2015  |  Supply chain

4 Responsible Procurement learning's from animal welfare

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In Denmark we are currently discussing how we can legislate against animal sex. It got me thinking about how the current state of animal welfare in general is in the supply chain.

I came across the Business Benchmark for Animal Welfare (BBFAW) which is being made in collaboration with Compassion in World Farming. The Benchmark provides an annual review of the world’s leading food companies – assessing how they manage and report their farm animal welfare practices. I am thinking that we can all learn something and get inspired from the approach to animal welfare, despite not having any animals in the supply chain.

This year, 80 companies were assessed, and ranked from Tier 1 (indicating companies are taking a leadership position) to Tier 6 (where animal welfare does not seem to appear on their business agenda). Encouragingly, 45% of the 65 companies first assessed in 2012 have moved up at least one tier. And there are a growing number of leadership companies in the benchmark from across different industry sectors and countries.

According to the report these companies have made strong commitments to farm animal welfare, with good management systems and processes, and a clear focus on measuring their performance. What really makes a difference are scandals like the horse-meat scandal which have forced companies to become more transparent about the management of their supply chains. An important fact is, that 28 of the companies assessed (35% compared to 15% in 2010) now include farm animal welfare in supplier conditions.

On the other hand the report also shows, that farm animal welfare is still an immature business issue. Half of the 80 countries assessed this year are in the bottom two tiers (Tiers 5 and 6) – indicating that farm animal welfare doesn’t receive anything like the same management attention as other corporate responsibility issues. And some of the world’s major companies have shown little sign of progress. Some of the strongest performing companies are based in the US. McDonald’s in particular, shows leadership in its approach to managing and reporting on farm animal welfare.

We can conclude that consumers increasingly care about where their food comes from and are demanding a better life for farm animals. It is encouraging to see a growing number of companies having stated commitments to animal welfare, there is clearly still much room for improvement. A statement which I especially like is:  “Companies have the power in their hands to transform the lives of billions of farm animals around the world.”

Learnings from the animal welfare approach could be:

  • Make sure there is management support
  • Include the requirements in supplier conditions and policies
  • Measure performance
  • Build good management systems and processes

About the author: Alis Sindbjerg Hemmingsen is a thought leader within the field of Responsible Procurement.

Her unique capability of combining sustainability and procurement best practices has positioned her as #210 on the global Responsible Sourcing ranking, listing the most influential contributors to the Responsible Procurement field.

Her mission is to inspire companies and people around the world to develop impact driven approaches to Responsible Procurement. This should accelerate the sustainable change with their suppliers and create a sustainable future for the generations to come. 

More than a 1000 people from 30 different countries have already downloaded her e-books and tools from the website of Responsible Procurement Excellence.

Besides her thought leadership she works full time in Velux procurement. Views are her own.

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