€2trn investor group backs formal statement on farm animal welfare

Issue seen as potentially material to long-term investment value

Eighteen institutional investors, representing £1.5trn (€1.96trn) in assets under management and including leading names like Aviva Investors, Robeco and Schroders, have become the founding signatories to the first investor statement on farm animal welfare (see investor list, below).

The initiative is spearheaded by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, with additional funding from $14bn private equity firm Coller Capital, whose founder Jeremy Coller also founded the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative, and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The signatories state
that they believe that farm animal welfare is potentially material to long-term investment value creation in the food sector. They commit to taking account of farm animal welfare when analysing food companies and to encouraging high standards across the sector.

They also point to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare as a framework that can be used by companies and by investors to guide their work on farm animal welfare. The Business Benchmark is the first global measure of company performance on animal welfare. It was created in 2012.

Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare Programme Director, Nicky Amos, commented: “This is the first time that institutional investors have supported a formal public statement on farm animal welfare. It is a clear sign that farm animal welfare is transitioning from being seen as a niche ethical issue to one that is recognised as an important source of business risk and of opportunity.”

Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare said the BBFAW had played a “catalytic role” in changing investors’ views on farm animal welfare. Earlier this month, Coller Capital hosted a roundtable on the business and investment case for farm animal welfare.It was attended by representatives of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Boston Common Asset Management, Boston Trust, Clearbridge Investments, Cornerstone Capital, Impax Asset Management, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Morgan Stanley, Nestlé, Sodexo, Tyson Foods and Trillium Asset Management.

Last month a $1trn coalition of 54 institutional investors, including Aviva Investors, Natixis Asset Management, ACTIAM, Mirova, Coller Capital and Strathclyde Pension Fund, launched an engagement campaign with ten of the biggest US and UK restaurant chains, to call for an end to non-therapeutic use of antibiotics important to human health in their global meat and poultry supply chains.

Founding signatories, Global Investor Statement on Farm Animal Welfare:

ASR Netherlands
Australian Ethical Investment
Aviva Investors
BNP Paribas Investment Partners
Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church
Coller Capital
EdenTree Investment Management
Epworth Investment Management
LWCO Trust (Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge)
NEI Investments
Rathbone Greenbank Investments
Standard Life
Trillium Asset Management
Triodos Investment Management
Walden Asset Management (Boston Trust)