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Jan 28, 2016

Investor coalition promises to increase engagement on farm animal welfare in 2016

BBFAW says 2015 brought ‘striking’ increase in investor awareness of farm animal rights

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), led by a coalition of lobby groups and institutional investors, says it will intensify its efforts to convince companies that animal welfare is a material issue this year after a ‘striking’ increase in investor interest last year.

The BBFAW, which releases an annual report rating large global companies on their animal welfare policies, says it will focus on investor engagement on animal welfare issues this year with the help of Aviva Investors, BNP Paribas Investment, Coller Capital, EdenTree Investment Management and other investors who joined a coalition for the purpose last year.

‘We have seen a striking increase in the willingness of investors to engage with companies to encourage them to improve their practices and reporting on farm animal welfare,’ the BBFAW writes in its latest annual report. ‘Investors are paying more attention to farm animal welfare in their investment research and in their engagement.’

The body says many of the investors in the coalition it helped form last year have said they are willing to follow up with companies to persuade them to increase their disclosure on issues related to farm animal welfare.

The latest benchmark report, which ranks 90 of the world’s leading food companies in terms of their animal welfare policies, states: ‘The key conclusion for investors is that farm animal welfare continues to be a systemic risk that many companies in the food industry are either not effectively managing or not properly reporting.’

The 2015 report gives highest marks to the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer, Noble Foods and Waitrose for their ‘leadership’ on animal welfare issues. Another 19 companies, including Autogrill, Burger King, Mars, Domino’s Pizza and Delhaize are rated in the lowest tier, as showing no evidence that animal welfare is on their business agenda.