22nd June, 2018| Animal Welfare

Compassion in World Farming Special Recognition Award 2018We’re over the moon to announce that we’ve received a Special Recognition Award at the Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards in Paris (Thursday 21st June). The award recognises companies that demonstrate outstanding innovation, commitment or achievement in a particular area of farm animal welfare.  To date, Unilever is the only other business to have received the award, so we’re in good company!

We received the award due to initiatives in three key strategic areas:

Improving pig welfare

We’ve been working in collaboration with Compassion since 2012 to improve pig welfare in continental Europe. Through the development of our pig scheme and also working closely with Compassion, we’ve been able to take a leadership position in Europe in improving animal welfare standards. The Special Recognition Award recognises the welfare improvements we’ve made in addressing and overcoming the major issues including confinement, mutilation and barren environments.
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Maintaining full traceability of supply chain

In a previous post, we talked about our UKAS accreditation for the Winterbotham Darby European Farm Partnership* (EFP) pig module. It is the only accredited standard of its kind for Europe and covers the entire supply chain; breeding, rearing, finishing, transport and slaughter. Fundamentally the standard is for higher welfare systems and takes into account health and welfare factors such as free farrowing, increased space and a stimulating environment.
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The standard covers antibiotic usage and medicine, feed, veterinary procedures, biosecurity and pest control. As a result, any farms audited against the Pig module (in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany) will meet or exceed current UK supermarket or retail requirements.

Educating farmers and consumers through research and communication events

We’ve also started to publicly communicate on pig welfare issues, raising awareness across the UK market. We co-host an annual animal health and welfare day (the only one of its kind in the UK) to bring together farmers, retailers, producers, NGOs, certification bodies and industry specialists. We commissioned a large research project to better understand UK consumer attitudes to higher welfare, with the aim of informing how higher welfare products can be more clearly labelled. In addition, we’ve also held a trade media round table with the objective of raising continental welfare issues in the UK. And we look to continue funding research in conjunction with academic and industry partners.
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David Houghton, our Technical Director had this to say about the award:

We are delighted to win this award and have our efforts recognised. There has never been a more important time for animal welfare within the food industry due to an increasing pressure and demands from the market to the uncertainty posed by Brexit. We need to ensure that animal welfare standards are not diluted and that changes in longer term goals and commitments are not made in response to these pressures and demands.
When we started this journey, the consensus was that what we wanted to achieve would be improbable or impossible; we are pleased and proud to demonstrate that this was not the case. We recognise the importance of animal welfare and that is why it is a key strategic part of our organisation be it today and in the future.

Here’s the speech which was read out before we accepted our award:

Winterbotham Darby – Special Recognition Award 2018 from Winterbotham Darby on Vimeo.

When we spoke to Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion she also commented:

Thanks to the outstanding work of Winterbotham Darby and its suppliers, pig welfare is moving up the business agenda and indoor free farrowing is becoming a commercial reality in European speciality cured pig meat.
Their unique Gold, Silver, Bronze animal welfare certification scheme for their continental meat suppliers has been instrumental in driving welfare improvements and helping to secure cage-free commitments in the pig sector across Europe. Compassion is delighted to recognise the huge investment and commitment by Winterbotham Darby with this year’s Special Recognition Award. It’s truly a well-deserved accolade.

We look forward to bringing you more news about our animal welfare progress, via our quarterly newsletter.

* We formed our European Farm Partnership to bring farmers, researchers, producers, processors and NGO’s together to share knowledge, innovation and science which has played an important role in achieving the significant improvements to date.