Nestlé is committed to improving farm animal welfare across our global supply chains.
We use dairy, eggs and a variety of meats and poultry as ingredients in a range of our products and we share consumer, civil society organization, government and investor concerns about the care, health and welfare of farm animals used in food production.
Our approach to implementing rigorous animal welfare standards
We recognize and share our stakeholders’ concerns about the welfare of animals raised for food and the need to ensure sustainable animal production systems. Through our Responsible Sourcing Standard and the Nestlé Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare, we are helping bring about positive change throughout our supply chains.
We are dedicated to eliminating practices from our global supply chain that are not consistent with the internationally accepted Five Freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, and disease; freedom to express normal and natural behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.
Our progress in animal welfare
Our broiler pledge in the United States and Europe
We will ensure that chicken welfare standards for poultry used in all our food products in the United States and Europe meet the criteria expectations set out in the European Broiler Ask/Better Chicken Commitment. By 2024 in the United States and 2026 in Europe, we will move to one standard, based on a phased introduction.
The European Broiler Ask/Better Chicken Commitment requires that 100% of the chicken used in Nestlé food products must (by 2024/2026):
- Comply with all animal welfare laws and regulations, regardless of the country of production.
- Implement a maximum stocking density of 6 lb/ft2 (30 kg/m2) or less. Thinning is discouraged and, if practiced, must be limited to one thin per flock.
- Choose breeds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes.
- Adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multiphase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.
- Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing and annual public reporting on progress toward this commitment.
Taking action to improve animal welfare
We collaborated with Koch Foods to compare the standard LED lighting programs currently used in broiler houses to a proposed natural lighting program. The study provides a side-by-side comparison of the effects of lighting sources on bird well-being and welfare.
The conditions were evaluated by Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization auditors as part of an animal welfare audit to ensure birds have space to express normal behaviors. Together with researchers from Auburn University/NPTC and Mississippi State University, the project provides insights on the well-being and welfare outcomes for broiler chickens under natural lighting.
Sow lameness represents a well-being and economic issue in swine production, and research is needed to address it at farm level. That is why we collaborated with United States supplier CTI Foods and the National Pork Board to assess sow lameness, using new technologies that monitor pig health to increase early lameness detection and mitigation. Researchers from USDA ARS U.S. Meat and Animal Research Center evaluated the sows and assessed foot and hoof lesion treatment as an earlier indicator of lameness.
In addition to evaluating lameness, we also partnered with CTI and the National Pork Board to evaluate the efficacy of pain management after veterinary procedures. Pain management is a significant animal welfare issue, and there is a need to identify practical and effective analgesic solutions on-farm. In this project, researchers from Kansas State University studied the efficacy of pain management, the response of the pigs and ongoing pig behavior.
In collaboration with our supplier Dawn Farm Foods, we conducted a pilot project to assess the welfare outcomes of pigs reared in ‘outdoor bred’ systems. This uses no farrowing crates and provides sows and piglets full access to outdoor habitats.
A pilot scheme in Brazil has provided compelling new information on the health and well-being of dairy cows. Earring sensors – the bovine equivalent of a health tracker wristband – placed on cows’ necks. The sensors have led to increased milk yields and higher incomes for farmers as a result of reduced stress in the animals.
The sensors provide farmers with 24/7 data on their animals’ condition and behavior, such as how much time they spend moving or resting, when and how often they eat or ruminate, their energy levels, when they are going to be ready for mating and more. The sensors can even indicate potential health issues 24 hours before they show up in the milk supply – well ahead of when a vet would traditionally be able to make a diagnosis. Nestlé covered 70% of the sensor costs, so the farmers contributed just 30%.
Nestlé is one of the founding members of the Global Coalition for Animal Welfare (GCAW). Food service companies and food manufacturers are working together through the GCAW to advance animal welfare standards globally, including improving conditions for intensively reared livestock. We supported the development of a report on the local conditions and context needed for transitioning to cage-free egg production in China.