Empty animal welfare promises a bad look for the food industry

Recently reversed Retail Council of Canada commitments for sows and hens leave a broken, voluntary system of protections

On March 29, when much of the news cycle was focused on the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) quietly published a memo announcing that it and its grocery partners were backtracking on past commitments made to improve animal welfare in their pork and egg supply chains.

RCC – which represents more than 45,000 storefront retail businesses, including major grocery chains Loblaws, Walmart and Sobeys – had in 2013 pledged to phase out gestation crates for pregnant pigs by 2022, and in 2016 declared it would source only cage-free eggs by 2025. In the recent announcement, RCC stated it was “renewing [its] focus on animal welfare” and planned to “pursue and make commitments solely through NFACC [the National Farm Animal Care Council] thus removing previous commitments on sow housing and cage-free eggs.” Meaning, RCC grocery members will no longer be endeavouring to source only cage-free eggs and crate-free pork in the near future.

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Is your pension invested in animal cruelty?

Few financial institutions are banking on animal welfare, but investors are pushing for change

Socially responsible investing is undoubtedly a rising trend. Globally, there is now more than $30 trillion invested in ways that take companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) records into consideration, including 25% of total assets under management in the U.S. alone. However, social responsibility can mean different things to different investors — and one sector of growing interest is animal welfare.

For investors with public pension funds who are concerned about animal welfare, knowing a fund’s involvement in potential animal cruelty is crucial, though not always easy to discern.

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