Greggs shows the way on animal welfare

The bakery chain has shot up the rankings in a high- profile assessment – and kept prices affordable. Others can learn from it, writes commercial director Malcolm Copland.

As recent food safety scares have highlighted, a poor record on animal welfare is not only unethical but can be highly damaging to businesses and brand reputations. As a result companies have become more

transparent about the management of their supply chains but this is a journey and it takes time for these values to be embedded into a business. In January, for example, World Animal Protection reported that 26 companies had moved up at least one tier on the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) since 2015, which is a clear indication that the food industry is finally starting to treat farm animal welfare as an important business issue.

But humane animal farming must be a greater priority for the foodservice industry. One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry is the alignment of ethical sourcing and affordable prices. Inevitably, there will be occasions where commercial considerations are not wholly aligned with ethical sourcing concerns. However, there are a growing number of leadership companies making public commitments to farm animal welfare, with good management systems and processes in place and a clear focus on measuring their performance.

BBFAW provides a practical and respected framework against which progress in this area can be assessed. It identifies areas for improvement and helps drive positive change across the food supply chain. In 2014, it served as a catalyst for us at Greggs to develop our five-year Farm Animal Welfare Policy and Strategy.

The strategy is based on existing EU and source country legislation and farm animal welfare certifications and standards, such as the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s Five Freedoms and the British Red Tractor assurance scheme. It has been developed in consultation with our suppliers and through engagement with NGOs, including Compassion in World Farming. It covers all animal and fish species that are reared or caught for supply to Greggs and comprises policies on key issues including close confinement, intensive farming, growth- promoting substances, antibiotics, pre-slaughter stunning, live transport and genetically modified and cloned livestock – all of which are used to shape the aspects of farm animal welfare relevant to the Greggs business.

We’re delighted to have been acknowledged for our leadership on farm animal welfare in BBFAW’s recently published 2016 report. And we are proud to have moved our rating from tier 5 to tier 2 over the last three years. This has been achieved by recognising the need to be pragmatic in our approach.

For instance, we initially focused on our high-volume, primary sourced raw pork, beef, mutton, cooked chicken and whole shell eggs. Last year we added milk, cream, liquid egg and wild caught skipjack tuna. Our plan is reviewed annually to make sure that it remains aligned with our business and industry practices, as well as with stakeholder expectations.

As with other environmental and social issues we have found that progress in farm animal welfare requires a continuous process of monitoring, improvement and investment. There are no quick wins. However, at Greggs we have proved that it is possible to offer customers high-quality, ethically sourced food at affordable prices.

Today, there’s greater awareness and desire among consumers to know where their food has come from and have confidence that farm animals have been ethically treated within the supply chain. We remain committed

to driving positive change across our supply chain and measuring our progress against the world’s leading benchmark on farm animal welfare. We call on others in the industry to do the same.”

Malcolm Copland is commercial director at Greggs.

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