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Compassion in World Farming celebrates welfare leaders with "Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards"

Farm animal welfare is gaining momentum across the globe as higlighted by Compassion in World Farming's latest awards ceremony in Brussels.

27 June 2019, at 2:15pm

The Awards hosted this year by vet, TV presenter and author, Emma Milne, celebrate companies that are committed to improving the lives of farm animals. Emma commented: “I’m hugely honoured to have been asked to host this year’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards. All the time we use animals for food, it’s essential that we keep striving to improve their welfare, not just in life but in death too. The Awards recognise those who embrace this.”

This year there was a total of 50 awards celebrating market-leading food businesses for their higher welfare policies and practices, which are set to benefit the lives of over 39 million animals each year.

Compassion introduced several new award categories in 2019 including the very first Good Turkey Awards, for companies addressing stocking density, use of fast-growing breeds and a lack of environmental enrichment for turkeys. Three producers/manufacturers at this year’s Awards were recognised in this category.

Traditional Norfolk Poultry which supplies speciality poultry to retailers, foodservice and ready meal manufacturers received a Good Turkey Award for their commitment to the highest welfare standards, ensuring their birds live in a highly enriched, free range environment.

© Traditional Norfolk Poultry

Mark Gorton, director, Traditional Norfolk Poultry said: “Our ethos is that of commitment to the birds’ welfare ensuring their life is as stress free and natural as possible. We are delighted to be recognised for our working practices and proud of our excellent quality of products.”

Abel & Cole were also Good Turkey Award winners. David Balmer, buying, technical & operations director, Abel & Cole, 2017 commented: “Abel & Cole encourages its customers to eat well by choosing food which is organic, and sourced or made sustainably and ethically. Compassion has previously recognised our high standards of animal welfare with a Good Egg Award and Good Chicken Award and we are delighted to have received one of the first Good Turkey Awards this year.”

The third and final Good Turkey Award in 2019 went to Les Fermiers de Loué in France who produce Label Rouge turkeys in small traditional free-range farms.

The only retailer to receive a Good Chicken Award this year was Monoprix. The French retailer has received four awards from Compassion over the years and this time was recognised for a significant commitment on broiler welfare. Building on their policy to phase out fast growing breeds for their own-brand fresh chicken (effective since the end of 2018), Monoprix is the first French retailer to sign up to the European Chicken Commitment for their fresh, frozen and processed chicken, and to advance the deadline to meet the criteria for their own-label fresh chicken by 2024.

Norwegian producer Stanges Gardsprodukter was awarded a Good Chicken Award. All their chickens are reared in higher welfare conditions; with more space to live and an enriched environment where the provision of natural light and verandas adds to the space and provides more stimulation; and the use of slower growing breeds ensures the birds are active and healthy.

Five retailers were awarded with Good Egg Awards; Woolworth’s (Australia) for going cage-free on all shell eggs and egg products; three French retailers, Scamark who will cease selling caged shell eggs by the end of 2020 and will use only cage-free eggs in its own-brand products by the end of 2023; Franprix, who already has a group level commitment to sell only cage-free shell eggs by 2020, and for their commitment to also use only cage-free egg ingredient in their own label products; and Carrefour France who has committed, under their own-label range, to ban cages for its shell eggs by 2020 and by 2025 for branded shell eggs and its products containing eggs. The retailer has also set further higher welfare standards for its own-brand shell eggs, which will all be either free-range or from barn systems with wintergardens.

Aldi Italy also received a Good Egg Award. The retailer has made a series of commitments to improve farm animal welfare, such as stopping the sale of quail eggs because of the lack of cage-free supply and has also committed to remove cages from its shell and ingredient egg supply chain by 2020.

Four French manufacturers/producers received Good Egg Awards; Avril Group, the number 1 egg producer in France, for their commitment to be entirely cage-free across all brands by 2025; Groupe Pierre Schmidt for sourcing 100percent free-range eggs and egg products for use in the Artisan deli range for which they are the French leading supplier; « C’est Qui Le Patron ?!/La Marque du Consommateur » for their commitment to 100percent free range eggs; and Fleury Michon, the French manufacturer of charcuterie products and ready meals who committed to source exclusively cage-free egg products by 2022.

Finally, two foodservice businesses were given Good Egg Awards: French company, Groupe Holder (who own high street brands such as Paul Bakery) for its commitment to source only free-range eggs and egg products by 2022, and Italian firm Chef Express (part of the Cremonini Group) which works across airports, train stations and service areas serving almost 70million customers a year. Chef Express has committed to only use cage-free shell eggs and egg products by 2024.

This year’s Best Retailer Innovation Award was presented to leading French retailer, Casino Group, which owns over 9,800 stores in France. Casino partnered with three animal welfare NGOs, including Compassion, to launch the very first animal welfare labelling scheme in France, in December 2018.

The scheme has initially been developed for broiler chickens, with the label displaying four levels of welfare from standard production to traditional free range. The label is based on over 200 animal welfare indicators, all verified by third-party auditing, covering all phases of an animal’s life: birth, rearing, transport and slaughter. Casino has supported the launch with in-store marketing and a dedicated website to explain the scheme to consumers, and work is already underway to roll it out across other species in due course.

Matthieu Riché, directeur de la RSE du groupe Casino said: “We are delighted to receive the 2019 Best Retailer Innovation Award. Our animal welfare labelling scheme is a collective innovation which has been co-built with 3 NGOs. Together we have developed a benchmark using 230 criteria to assess the level of animal welfare at all stages of a broiler chickens’ life. This award reinforces our ambition to promote animal welfare labelling at a national and a European level, and the scheme is open to all stakeholders.”

In 2019, Compassion launched its Sustainable Food and Farming Awards and Chippindale (Morrisons) was selected as the ‘Corporate’ award winner. They are a free-range egg company that supplies (and is also owned by) Morrisons. They have partnered with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and require each of their supplying farmers to plant an acre of wildflower meadow for every laying hen range, boosting bee numbers by up to 55percent.

Compassion’s Awards programme in China has continued to flourish, working with the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW), to recognise the higher welfare achievements of Chinese pig and poultry producers. The Chinese producer awards are based on criteria that equate to stars with five being the highest accolade. This year there were four Good Egg Production Award winners (of which two achieved five stars) and five Good Chicken Production Winners, with three achieving 5 stars.

Dr Tracey Jones, Compassion’s director of food business, reflected on the success of the awards:

“There is undoubtedly a major shift happening across the global food industry towards higher welfare, as market forces continue to shape the way we produce and eat our food. While change is being driven by a myriad of stakeholders concerned about the welfare of farm animals and the need to look after our planet, it is the food industry that makes this change a reality.

“The food business programme at Compassion started with a simple concept – to recognise those companies committed to removing cages for laying hens in their egg supply. In a year when Compassion is driving hard for an end to cages for all farm animals, it’s fitting that the majority of our winners are Good Egg Award winners impacting the lives of more than 20 million hens this year alone.

“Our awards are a great way to recognise and congratulate those that are doing their part to better the lives of farm animals, and now through our Sustainable Food and Farming Awards, to protect the environment. We hope that others will follow in their footsteps to help drive change, for the sake of our animals, out health and ultimately our planet”.