The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) is an annual review of the welfare performance of 80 companies across the world based on how they report their animal welfare standards online.
2 Sisters Food Group featured in the lowest of the six tiers for animal welfare standards, while British companies Waitrose and Marks & Spencer featured in the top tier. BBFAW reported that half of the 80 companies featured in the bottom two tiers, indicating that farm animal welfare is not receiving "anything like the same management attention as other corporate responsibility issues".
Little sign of progress
Meanwhile the BBFAW reported some of the world's major companies have shown little sign of progress.
However, a spokesperson for 2 Sisters Food Group said the audit was not a true reflection of the company's animal welfare standards: "We note the BBFAW's audit is based solely on what is said by companies themselves and published on their own websites, and not on any independent audits of day-to-day working practices.
"This audit was carried out in August last year, four weeks before 2 Sisters Food Group's new improved corporate website was launched. The new site carries substantially more information on our approach to animal welfare, and details how we work with Red Tractor, RSPCA Freedom Foods and many others to meet rigorous welfare standards, which are independently audited in terms of both policy and actual working practices."
Rory Sullivan, expert advisor to the BBFAW, commented: "The key conclusion to be drawn from the 2014 Benchmark is that farm animal welfare continues to be a systemic risk that many companies in the food industry are either not effectively managing or not properly reporting.
"We are particularly concerned that most of the companies in Tier 6 and Tier 5 do not appear to have taken action to improve their management of farm animal welfare-related risks and opportunities, nor have they signalled that they intend to do so."
Eighteen UK companies featured in the list, with Cranswick and Sainsbury's also performing well.