News: 8 December 2016

7 things you need to know about animal welfare


Meeting needs of consumers who are more discerning and marketing savvy than ever before can be an ongoing challenge for the food and farming industries.


One area that has rapidly gained in prominence is the demand for free range products. Many consumers believe ‘free range’ products come from animals that had a happy life. This is not always the case.


What are the 7 things you need to know?

1. It has become a big deal
Forbes Magazine notes a study by the Hartman Group (2015)[1] shows almost half of consumers (47%) say they support companies that avoid inhumane treatment of animals. Similarly, 44% of those consumers would like information about how a company treats animals used in its products. A recent American survey (June 2016) cited in Spend Matters[2] shows that 78% of participants said they believe an objective inspector should be checking on the welfare of animals on farms to certify humane treatment.

Free range is good, right?
Consumers are led to believe free range are the best farming practice and naturally good for animals. Question by what measure that product is proven free range and whether it ticks all the animal welfare boxes. 

There are no regulations that control the definition of free range produce
Without an independent third party certification, you could be paying too much for free range products with no assurance of high animal welfare. When in fact a high animal welfare approved barn operation is better than a poor free range operation with limited access to the outdoors, no access to litter or poor ventilation systems inside the sheds.

Independent accreditation adds value and trust
To ensure a product lives up to its claims, look for an independent accreditation. One such scheme is the SPCA Blue Tick®, the only animal welfare accreditation in New Zealand independent from the food and farming industries. Run by the SPCA, the charity isn’t ‘in the business’ of farming or producing food, but ‘in the business’ of animal welfare. (The SPCA has been voted 4th most trusted charity in the 2016 Reader’s Digest survey).

Rigour in achieving standards is necessary
Consumer trust in an accreditation scheme is only as good as the standards that are represented. The SPCA Blue Tick® standards are compiled by animal welfare experts after consultation with approved producers and are signed off by the SPCA Chief Scientific Officer. These standards are enforceable and continually examined and revised to reflect global best high animal welfare practise.

Auditing assures ongoing compliance with rigorous standards
Consumer confidence requires evidence and that evidence can’t be a ‘once off’. The SPCA Blue Tick® stringent standards are verified by trained third party auditors and then approved by the SPCA. Independent audits are conducted annually with additional unannounced audits throughout the year. 

Do your homework 
Always ask to see the original ‘Certificate of Approval’. Ask questions such as: How good is the certified free range product? Are there independent and regular audits? Audited against what standards? Have the standards been written by animal welfare experts? Does the farm meet the minimal standards of the animal welfare Codes or do the standards go beyond that? Are there stringent high animal welfare standards that are enforceable?

Products that stand out on shelves are those that appeal to the values of consumers. The SPCA Blue Tick® certification logo singles out that the product comes from approved farms where high animal welfare is at the core, and more than just a slogan.


Media release published:
FMCG Business Magazine (hard copy)- December 2016/January 2017 issue
FMCG Business Magazine (digital) - December 2016/January 2017


Leandri Smith, PR Republic, 027 365 9003,


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