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Triodos Engagement Report

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Animal welfare

Case study | Colruyt in Belgium

Evidence shows that animals in intensive farming and production systems often live in discomfort and suffer unnecessarily. For over two years, Triodos Research has been engaging with food retail and restaurant companies asking them to enhance their animal welfare standards for animals raised for their products

In 2014, we started engaging for improvement of farm animal welfare practices in relation to the food retail and restaurant industries. Our goal was to improve the standards of at least five companies of the ten companies contacted. After two years of in-depth engagement with the companies contacted we were able to conclude that our goal has been achieved.

At the time of that initial dialogue in 2014, our goal was to encourage the tightening of animal welfare policies and standards. The Five Freedoms, a core concept in animal welfare that originated in a UK government report in 1965 are our leading framework. The Five Freedoms state that an animal’s primary welfare needs can be met by safeguarding the following five freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour, and freedom from mental suffering.

Next steps

Although the companies in our universe are making good progress, they still have to deal with a number of obstacles. Making improvements in their supply chain, for example, largely depends on the financial capacity of farmers to improve their practices. Having learned about these obstacles helps us to develop our own standards further. Whilst companies in our investment universe are already leaders in farm animal welfare, particularly for fresh meat and eggs, we expect to see the leading companies develop more initiatives related to dairy and processed food. We will therefore continue our engagement efforts with companies in our investment universe.

Frontrunner

Several companies have significantly improved their practices, and have started new activities to improve farm animal welfare in their supply chain that go beyond the required legal minimum standards. Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt belongs to the frontrunners with regard to improved performance.

Colruyt – improved guidelines and monitoring

The Belgian supermarket retailer clearly addressed our recommendations and its progress is impressive. The company has not only implemented clear general animal welfare guidelines, but also substantially improved its reporting, and developed new standards for chickens, animal ingredients in non-food products and the use of antibiotics. Its monitoring and evaluation system has also been strengthened and is an important pillar of the company’s approach. Improved procurement policies and procedures concerning all animals in its supply chain are also top of the agenda. The company seeks close collaboration with its suppliers to progressively develop better standards. We would like to see Colruyt extend its commitment and publish more concrete standards, and to extend its scope beyond Belgium.

Learn more

Continue reading about animal welfare and other outperformers from our SRI funds.

 

Read about the top 3 outperformers in animal welfare ›

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