Thursday, 25 April, saw the launch of the must anticipated BBFAW 2023. Our Head of Business - Animal Welfare, Compliance & Environment in Implementation & Customer Success, Dr Fiona Roberts, was there. Here are her thoughts on the new report. 

It is now 12 years since the launch of the first BBFAW report, and this year  - the 2023 edition - sees the benchmark represent a real step change in approach and methodology. Principally this is because there's has been a shift in focus from governance and policy (what businesses intend to do) to that of demonstrable impact (what has actually been achieved); with the 20 impact questions accounting for 50% of total marks.

This change is so significant that it is not appropriate to compare the 2023 results of the 150 companies assessed with those of previous years - a point that was emphasised during the 2023 report launch.

What we have now is effectively a new baseline.


What were the 2023 BBFAW results and what do they mean?

The 2023 results saw a significant reduction in total scores and associated tier ranking (1-5) and impact rating (A-E). However, this should not be taken to indicate that animal welfare has become a less important business issue, rather that the assessment criteria have become more stretching. In fact, this apparent decline is completely in line with the predictive modelling undertaken before the revised approach was implemented.

There are still many positive messages including the fact that 95% of companies acknowledge animal welfare as a business issue and 73% articulate this through formal time bound species-species targets for welfare improvement.

"There are still many positive messages including the fact that 95% of companies acknowledge animal welfare as a business issue"

However, with the emphasis on impact reporting there are now no companies in tier 1 and a minority (18%) occupying tiers 2-4, leaving a majority in tiers 5 and 6. In the same vein there are no companies achieving an A or B impact rating with only 11 companies (7.3%) achieving a C or D rating. With the average impact score across all companies equating to 7%, meaning that there is plenty of scope for improvement.

So what are the challenges and opportunities that the BBFAW panel, industry and investment representatives identified during discussions, specifically to support improved performance in subsequent benchmark assessments?

“Know your supply chains” was highlighted as being a crucial first step by Chris Wells (Greggs), so that businesses can “report clearly and accurately on actions and outcomes” -  an element that Tracey Jones (CIWF) highlighted as pivotal to evidencing animal welfare policy impact, along with meaningful analysis.

The investor perspective, as summarised by Will Oulton (Eurosif), is that animal welfare is integral to a sustainable finance sector and a strategic business issue. But that it is no longer enough to talk about process, companies must be able to evidence delivery.

This message was reiterated in the closing remarks by Dr Martina Stephany (Four Paws), in that transparent reporting was essential to support the “race to the top” in terms of welfare policy and outcomes and this very much remained the aspiration of BBFAW and was integral to a sustainable food system as a whole.

If you'd like to learn more about Foods Connected can help you with your sustainability or animal welfare needs, then take a read of this guide to our Animal Welfare and Supply Chain solutions.

You can also download our whitepaper on six ways to improve your ESG Strategy for 2024 below. 

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