2016 was a remarkable year for the welfare of laying hens as many of the world’s most influential food companies made a wave of cage free commitments which spread from the US, to Europe and the UK, crossing all sectors and laying the foundations for the end of the cage age.
This movement was reflected in Compassion’s 2017 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, which took place on Wednesday 28 June in London, hosted by environmental journalist and broadcaster, Lucy Siegle as the charity marked the tenth anniversary since the first Good Egg Award was presented in 2007. Since then over 1,000 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards have been presented to companies from across the globe.
Lucy said: “I am honoured to have hosted the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards. This is not only the 10th year since the awards began but the 50th anniversary year of Compassion itself. Through the efforts of Compassion working with award winners, major strides are being made in improving the lives of millions of farm animals and in positively changing the attitudes of the global food industry towards farm animal welfare.”
This year there was a total of 95 awards celebrating the commitment of leading food businesses to higher welfare policies and practices; this includes 67 awards celebrated at the ceremony and 28 awards which have been presented to SME’s and public sector companies throughout 2017.
The awards comprise the Good Egg Awards, Good Chicken Awards, Good Dairy Awards, Good Pig Awards and Good Rabbit Awards, and the 5 star Good Producer Awards for higher welfare egg, chicken and pig production in China.
The 2017 Awards had a global reach with companies from China, the United States, Australia and Europe accepting accolades. The policies of 15 UK companies were acknowledged including Abel & Cole, Whitbread, McDonald’s, Greggs and Amazon Fresh UK, with Waitrose performing particularly well picking up not only a Cage-free Award but two Retailer Awards as well.
This year, a total of 13 awards were presented to food service companies – including a first full Good Chicken Award in China to Dodu Rotisserie Francais. This restaurant provides free range chicken to its customers and is committed to improving the welfare of the chicken it sources. It firmly believes that animals who have had a better life will produce food of a safer and better quality.
The Casual Dining Group owns some of the UK’s favourite restaurant brands including Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, serving more than 20 million meals at close to 300 locations nationwide. The Casual Dining Group received a Good Egg Award in recognition of their commitment to source responsibly, not just whole eggs but egg ingredients too.
Similarly, Whitbread, another major restaurant and hotel owner received the Good Egg Award for their commitment to source only cage-free whole eggs for their UK and German operations by 2020.
Some award winners have built on previous successes. Once such company is Greggs. Following their 2014 Good Egg Award for their free-range egg policy on whole/shell eggs, Greggs continue to demonstrate how seriously they take animal welfare by committing to move all egg ingredient to cage free by 2022. Compassion are delighted to work with Greggs and support them in proving it is possible to offer customers high welfare, ethically sourced food at affordable prices.
Another example where award success inspires further actions is at Ella’s Kitchen. In 2016, they were awarded a Good Chicken Award for their policy to use only organic chicken in all their baby food products. As part of their long term sustainable sourcing strategy called ‘Our Dream’ they are committed to all materials and services being ethically and sustainably sourced by 2024 – this includes a commitment to sourcing all their meat and dairy to higher animal welfare standards. This year Compassion are delighted to recognise this commitment by awarding Ella’s Kitchen the Good Egg Award for sourcing 100% of their egg ingredients from organic, cage-free hens.
One of the world’s most recognisable brands, McDonald’s has had outlets in the UK for over 40 years, serving more than 3 million customers every day. The UK arm of the McDonald’s empire is committed to improving animal welfare across its categories. It previously secured Good Egg Awards (2008 whole eggs & 2015 for ingredients), a Good Sow Commendation (2013) and the Best Marketing Award (2016) from Compassion in World Farming. This year, Compassion is delighted to recognise McDonald’s UK with a Good Dairy Commendation for their policy to use only liquid milk, in their teas, coffees, porridge and Happy Meal bottles, that come from cows with access to pasture grazing and a health programme to improve cow welfare. Their milk is also organic.
It is now possible to say that all the major UK retailers have committed to using only cage-free eggs, four out of the five leading Italian retailers have current policies or have made public commitments for cage free, while seven out of the eight top French retailers have also committed to going entirely cage-free. Food service is following suit with giants Sodexo, Compass Group and Elior Group all having committed to going cage free.
Compassion is asking companies to go further and end all cages across all species. Reflecting this, they introduced a new award this year – the Cage Free Award – a somewhat challenging award, requiring companies to commit to ending the use of cages for laying hens, quail, rabbits and ducks, as well as stalls and farrowing crates for sows, for their full range of fresh, frozen and ingredient products. Compassion was delighted to award five companies at the ceremony including food service companies the Jamie Oliver Group (global) and Pret (global).
Daniel Nowland, Head of Technical, Jamie Oliver Ltd said of the Award: “We are super excited to be receiving such an important award from Compassion. I’m so proud that animal welfare is a top priority for Jamie and my colleagues across the business in media, restaurants and retail. Getting animal welfare right is never easy, cheap or straightforward, but we all recognise it as key to running a successful and responsible business.”
Following the success of the Awards, Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming concluded: “We have witnessed significant progress on farm animal welfare policies and practices since Compassion launched its Good Egg Award 10 years ago. The Food Business programme has evolved and expanded over those years and I’m particularly proud that we have played a significant role in change – and the commitment and pledges to change – in order to benefit the lives of more than one billion farm animals.
“It’s an amazing time to be involved in the animal welfare arena: cages for laying hens are being consigned to the history books, the plight of the broiler chicken is being taken seriously, and industry is leading the charge on cage free systems for rabbits and pigs. I congratulate all our award winners this year and promise that Compassion will continue to work collaboratively with our winners and corporate partners to ensure the commitments and pledges they have made come to fruition.”