SPCA Blue Tick helps you build more trust into your brand
Research shows consumer demand for eggs and meat products farmed using high animal welfare standards continues to grow. Conscious consumers however run the risk of being misled by marketing terms such as ‘free range’ amongst others that doesn’t necessarily give the assurance of high animal welfare.
SPCA Blue Tick Business Unit Manager Segolene de Fontenay says ‘free range’ is only a style of farming and when you see ‘free range’ it is important to question by what measure that product was certified as free range. “If it isn’t backed by announced and unannounced independent audits with an independent certification, there is no reliable way of confirming that it actually is ‘free range’ with access to outdoors, for how long and what quality the outdoors are, nor if the farm meets at least the minimal standards of the animal welfare Code or other standards compiled by animal welfare experts. This all means consumers could be paying more than they should be,” she says. The SPCA Blue Tick would like to see more regulated and consistent labelling on egg and meat packaging so consumers can understand exactly what they are buying.
“Brands aligning themselves with the SPCA Blue Tick, an accreditation independent from the food and farming industries benefit from consumer trust and the credibility that the products aren’t just labelled with meaningless marketing terms. There is a rigorous system behind it backed by the SPCA, a highly trusted New Zealand brand,” says de Fontenay.
The SPCA created the SPCA Blue Tick to take farmers, distributors, retailers and consumers on a high farm animal welfare journey. The SPCA Blue Tick Certification logo on eggs, chicken, pork and turkey products gives consumers the reassurance that the products they buy have been farmed to high animal welfare standards. They work with farmers to improve overall animal welfare and convert conventional, to high welfare approved systems in a commercially sustainable way. It drives improved welfare with solutions that make the change affordable for farmers in the long term, and their produce within means for most consumers.
The standards, put together by a Committee of animal welfare experts and SPCA Chief Scientific Officer Dr Arnja Dale, cover an animal's behavioural needs, going beyond the bare minimum that the law requires. For example, good quality litter inside the shed and outside in the free range areas is important so that hens can access it at all times allowing them display their behavioural needs to scratch, forage and dust bath.
The standards also incorporate current legislation, codes of welfare, scientific research, veterinary advice, and practical farm experience and account for responsible animal management, skilled stockmanship, environmental design, and humane handling, transport and slaughter.
The SPCA Blue Tick is actively promoting cage-free farming, in line with SPCA not approving any colony farms replacing battery cage farms. Colony cages are bigger than battery cages but they contain more birds. So the amount of space per animal is still very small – about the size of an A4 piece of paper, there are just more birds in the cages, and there are not quite as barren, but do not meet the behavioural needs of the hens says Dr Dale.
The SPCA Blue Tick invites other FMCG brands to join the scheme to help safeguard the welfare of farm animals and build more trust into their brands. This will also provide more clarity for consumers so they can make fully informed choices. “At the end of the day, if consumers buy products made in ways that meet higher animal welfare standards, farmers and retailers will meet that demand. We all play a part, and unless changes are made in a joint effort, chances are we will not improve farm animal welfare,” concludes de Fontenay.