Compassion in World Farming strives to create a sustainable and humane food and farming system. Nearly half of the world’s arable land surface and 70% of all available fresh water is used for food production (OECD, 2018). Yet, our industrial food system is not only struggling to keep up with the rising human population and demand for food, but also causing severe, often irreversible environmental damage--all to satisfy our growing appetite for cheap meat. Unfortunately for our planet, production of animal protein is one of the most resource-intensive forms of food production, and one of the least efficient.
Our industrialized, meat-centered food system does not align with the requirements of a sustainable diet:
Animal welfare matters more and more
Corporate food policies and practices are increasingly guided by the “Five Freedoms,” core tenets of animal welfare that are quickly becoming universal values in the food industry. It is becoming unacceptable to keep farmed animals in overcrowded, inhumane circumstances to produce cheap protein. There is also growing awareness that industrial meat production has reached a threshold in terms of efficiency. As such, meeting the rising demand for protein by producing ever-increasing amounts of cheap meat--at the expense of animal welfare--is no longer a viable solution.
Growing market opportunity
The flexitarian diet, which incorporates more plant-based options into meals and reduces consumption of animal products, is on the rise: Market trends indicate that the plant-based and alternative meat markets are growing year on year. Companies should look at this growing phenomenon as a valuable business opportunity, with capacity to grow more over time.
Contributing to healthy diets
Food companies and producers are in a unique position to shape consumer health and nutrition through their protein offerings. There is increasing awareness of the negative health effects associated with diets high in animal proteins, and research has linked meat consumption to increased risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and some forms of cancer. Meanwhile, plant-based diets have been correlated to reduced incidence of breast, cervical, and ovarian cancers; lower blood pressure and cholesterol; and lower rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Investing in the least risk
Factory farming carries inherent risks for a business’ future, including food recalls and shortages due to disease outbreak (i.e. Avian Influenza, Salmonella, and E. coli), and undercover investigations that result in public outcry. Awareness of these risks has reached the investment community, where initiatives such as FAIRR are recommending diversification into plant-based proteins as a strategy to mitigate the risks inherent to supply chains reliant on animal proteins.
Mitigating environmental impact
Livestock production has also been identified as a key contributor to climate change. Many companies aim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and as such, there is a need to evaluate a supply chain’s animal protein production through that lens. However, though they represent a common sustainability metric, GHG emissions should not be a company’s only concern. Soil degradation is largely a result of industrial agricultural practices required to produce vast amounts of grains to feed factory farmed animals; according to FAO, we only have sixty harvests left in our soils. Agricultural practices linked to soil degradation have other serious environmental impacts, including the creation of oceanic “dead zones” due to fertilizer runoff, and accelerating the loss of biodiversity.
The Friendly Food Alliance is a bespoke, bold, and innovative project that draws on our learnings from years of animal welfare advances and applies them to a new goal: reducing the number of animals and animal products purchased and produced by food companies by 25% by 2025.
The Friendly Food Alliance aims to bring food businesses and producers to the table to workshop solutions around how to remain relevant in a changing marketplace, and how to most effectively contribute to a healthier, more sustainable food and farming system.
2018-2019: The pilot year
We are recruiting up to 10 companies to pilot this critical work. Pilot companies would be expected to work with Compassion for a one-year period to measurably and innovatively explore both inside and outside-the-box solutions that reduce the number of animals in their supply chains. Blended products, whole carcass utilization, waste reduction, serving size changes, and innovative plant dishes are among the many possibilities.
At the end of the year, we will bring the 10 pilot companies together to share what they have learned with a facilitator, and then compile and publish our findings. Following this initial phase, the goal is to take this knowledge to a wider group of companies and expand the reach of the project.
Be part of the solution. Apply to participate in the pilot:
We are not asking you to commit to a reduction target now. Instead, we are seeking companies that are serious about exploring this issue. We’ll provide experts, number crunching, bespoke tools and resources, and strategic thinking. A possible collaboration would require:
Willingness to look at innovative solutions and share supply chain challenges
Agreement to participate in an end-of-year meeting with other pilot companies to share learnings
Non-disclosure agreements are an option, if necessary. There is no cost to the company to partake in the project.
If you want to be part of the solution and are interested in joining the Friendly Food Alliance, please reach out to Scott Weathers at
Compassion’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards recognize market-leading food companies for their current policies or commitments to higher welfare production for the farm animals within their supply chains.
Friendly Food Awards
Our new Award – the Friendly Food Awards - will be announced at the 2018 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards on June 21, in Paris, France. The award will recognize company achievement to reduce the number of animals used in their supply through a variety of mechanisms, set at three levels:
Commit to a 25% reduction within 5 years, for the GOLD award.
Commit to a 15% reduction within 5 years, for the SILVER award.
Commit to a 10% reduction within 5 years, for the BRONZE award.
Considerations for this award include:
The company’s pursuit of the reduction of animals cannot have the intended or unintended consequence of increasing intensive production for the remaining animals in their supply chain.
If the company has already begun reduction efforts, we will calculate their 25% reduction from the time of peak animal purchasing.
The application process for this award will begin in 2019.
The business case for protein diversification and expansion: 25X25
Beyond factory farming: solutions for animals, people, and the planet (CIWF 2009)
Eating the planet? How we can feed the world without trashing it (CIWF, 2009)
FAIRR:The Future of Food; The Case for a Protein Shake-Up
Future-proofing the bottom line: The food business case for animal welfare and protein diversification in sustainability efforts (CIWF, 2017)
Future-proofing the bottom line: The food business case for animal welfare and protein diversification in sustainability efforts (Summary) (CIWF, 2017)
Towards a healthy, sustainable, humane food and farming system (CIWF, 2017)
Why we need to reduce animal livestock consumption by 50% by 2050
Paying for the true costs of our meat, eggs and dairy (CIWF, 2017)
Chao, Ann, Michael J. Thun, Cari J. Connell, Marjorie L. McCullough, Eric J. Jacobs, W. Dana Flanders, Carmen Rodriguez, Rashmi Sinha, and Eugenia E. Calle. 2005. “Meat Consumption and Risk of Colorectal Cancer.” JAMA 293 (2): 172–82.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. December 4, 2015. Soils are endangered, but the degradation can be rolled back.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 2018.
Walker, Polly, Pamela Rhubart-Berg, Shawn McKenzie, Kristin Kelling, and Robert S. Lawrence. 2005. “Public Health Implications of Meat Production and Consumption.” Public Health Nutrition; Cambridge 8 (4): 348–56.
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