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Boparan Group Farm Animal Welfare Strategy 2020

Our Business

2 Sisters Food Group is the trading name for Boparan Holdings Limited, which owns directly and indirectly UK & EU companies constituting the Boparan Group of companies. The principle activity of the Group is food manufacture with diversified market positions in supermarket own-label and branded products.

The business operates in three divisions: Protein, Meal Solutions and Branded.

Protein:
This division produces both branded and own brand products from our UK Poultry, Added Value Poultry and European Poultry sites.

Meal Solutions:
This division produces own brand pizzas, hot cross buns, ambient and frozen ready meals, soups and sauces.

Branded:
These are divided into Biscuits and Frozen food sites and are home to household name Holland's Pies.

Our aim is to be the best in our sector with regard to the production of sustainable, quality livestock, grown to the highest welfare standards which our customers expect.

We have a defined Animal Welfare Policy (click here), agreed with the Board, implemented and managed by our Group Agriculture Team.

Boparan Group are committed to driving up animal welfare standards within the industry through our business and partnerships with our suppliers and customers. We are proud of our animal welfare standards across all aspects of the supply chain, from farm to fork, and ensure we source from a supply base which is committed to high welfare standards in its production system. We adhere to or exceed many regulatory standards within the food sector and are constantly looking at ways to improve our standards even further through data and science-based decision making.


We recognise that improving Farm Animal Welfare (FAW) is a continuous process and we will use industry metrics, such as the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), to demonstrate our on-going commitment towards promoting higher animal welfare standards.

Our FAW Standards have been developed in alignment with the ‘Five Freedoms’ as developed by the FAWC (Farm Animal Welfare Committee):

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  • Freedom from discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind
  • Freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering

In addition to all UK & EU food sourcing and production legislation, we require suppliers to fully comply with UK & EU FAW legislation and adherence to the specifications of our business customers, which may include relevant country and species-specific farm assurance scheme standards, such as Bord Bia, Red Tractor, Beter Leven, QS and IKB.


Scope

Whilst this is a Boparan Holdings Ltd Farm Animal Welfare Strategy, our protein business, comprising of UK Poultry, Added Value Poultry and European Poultry, delivers the most material impact on-farm animal welfare with UK Poultry representing more than half of The Boparan Group business by sales.

UK Poultry partners with approximately 380 chicken farms producing 6.2 million birds per week for our food business customers. 63% of the chickens are grown on company owned farms and the remaining 37% are grown by contract growers to supply farms.

100% of our UK growing farms are audited annually to the 2 Sisters Food Group standard and this is supported by weekly KPI reviews with Farm, Area and General Managers. 83.88% of Red Tractor standard, 9.38% of enhanced indoor, 1.58% of RSPCA Assured/BCC, 4.12% of Free Range and 1.01% of Organic chicken in the UK are grown to meet our business requirements.

We have 396 chicken farms based in the EU of which 100% are contract grower all of which are managed by 2 Sisters Food Group. We will work with our suppliers to gain data and insights for 2022.

For other species, we will require our suppliers to work with their farmers to ensure that all relevant UK & EU legislation, including that relating to FAW, are met. We will require them to adhere to the specifications of our business customers. By December 2021, we will work with our customers and suppliers to extend our policy scope to include species specific welfare outcome measures.

Our Approach to FAW

Context

The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has placed unprecedented challenges on food supply chains with impacts on our employees, our business customers and our suppliers. Our ability to still be able to provide safe, high quality, responsibly produced and sustainably sourced food underscores the importance of having strong and honest relationships with both our customers and suppliers.

Working closely across the Group, and in partnership with our strategic customers, has enabled us to work flexibly and adapt to new and evolving conditions including Covid-19 rules and regulations. Our approach to FAW has never been compromised during this time and this has been achieved through having:

  • Dedicated Crisis Management Group and clear contingency planning
  • Facilities and operations to mitigate the risks presented by Covid-19
  • Daily communications with internal cross-functional groups and our farmers
  • Training and support for all our key workers that is clear, accessible and understandable so that our workface are confident of keeping safe whilst maintaining food production
  • Constructive and positive engagement with Government MP’s, vets and industry trade bodies
  • Strong partnerships with our key customers to meet consumer demand

Management Commitment

Farm animal welfare is a top priority for the Boparan Board and the senior management team who have ultimate accountability for ensuring that our Food and FAW policy requirements are being met to the standards that our customers expect. This is done through monthly review meetings that include FAW performance against set targets and KPI’s, as well as monitoring of any welfare monitoring trends.

Within the core poultry business in each of these divisions the Agriculture Director, Compliance Managers and Agriculture/Farm Managers are responsible for overall management and delivery of these requirements.

To view our Livestock Procurement Policy (click here)

Boparan Group Position on Priority Farm Animal Welfare Issues

Close Confinement and Intensive Farming

All poultry and livestock must be provided with sufficient space such that they are protected from discomfort, fear and pain and are free to express their normal behaviours.

  • 100% of broilers in our global supply chain are cage free
  • UK growers are kept in a stocking density of less than 30kg/m2:

UKP

2018

UKP

2019

EU

2019

% birds grown @ < 30g/m2

4.62%

4.82%

4.12%

% birds grown at 30kg/m2

4.51%

7.67%

7.2%

% birds grown at 34kg/m2

7.41%

2.41%

4.82%

% birds grown at > 34kg/m2

83.46%

85.11%

12.25%

% birds grown at > 39kg/m2

0.00%

0.00%

70.99%

Suppliers must comply with all relevant food legislation including UK & EU Animal Welfare Legislation and, where relevant, they should also adhere to farm assurance standards as a minimum. They must also be able to provide information of species-specific environmental enrichment requirements to encourage natural behaviours at any given time on request from our business customers.


Use of Routine Mutilations

100% of livestock and poultry procured must be protected from avoidable pain, injury and disease through prompt diagnosis and treatment. Where routine mutilations are absolutely necessary, e.g. tail docking and castration in pigs, then anesthetic and pain relief must be applied as required by law.

  • 100% of growing birds are not beak trimmed
  • 100% of our UK pork is not chemically or surgically castrated
  • We will work with our wider supply chain by 2022 for further data and insights

For other species, we will work with our suppliers to work with their producers to ensure that all relevant FAW is met and is documented with data and insights by 2022.


Live Transport

The Boparan Group is committed to ensuring the transport of live animals is carried out in a humane manner, which minimises fear and distress, ensuring good animal welfare and product quality.

Our poultry business requires suppliers to report on their live journey times, in accordance with UK & EU legislation and our customer/assurance requirements.


Average % Bird Travel Times

UK

Netherlands

Poland

2019

2019

2019

0-2hrs

0.32%

0.5%

10.0%

2-4hrs

41.72%

43.0%

72.0%

4-6hrs

50.50%

52.0%

18.0%

6-8hrs

7.47%

4.5%

0.0%


For other species, we will work with our UK & EU suppliers and their producers to deliver further data and insights by 2022.

To view our Live Transport of Animals Policy (click here)


Genetically Modified and Cloned Livestock & Poultry

The Boparan Group does not accept any animals that have been produced by, or subject to, genetic modification or cloning.

Our livestock procurement policy prohibits the procurement of animals which have been cloned. We work proactively with our producers in our UK supply chain to ensure that every effort is made to prevent meat from cloned animals or their 1st generation offspring from entering the food chain.

To view our Clones & Genetic Modification in the Supply Chain Policy (click here)


Pre-Slaughter Stunning

The Boparan Group is committed to ensuring that animals in its supply chain are:

  • 100% either stunned prior to slaughter or killed in a humane manner (CAK)

All our business complies with the EU Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing (WATOK) Regulations and animal slaughter in our European operations is carried out by WATOK approved staff with regular internal checks and welfare audits of the stun/slaughter process carried out by approved Welfare Officers.

In line with UK & EU legislation, suppliers must have contingency plans in the event of a failure of the stunning equipment or failure to deliver an effective stun.

In 2019 100% of our poultry received an effective stun/kill.

For all other species, we will work with our suppliers and their producers to ensure that all relevant UK & EU FAW legislation is met and gain data and insights by 2022.

To view our Slaughter Policy (click here)


Governance and Policy Implementation

Poultry (Growers)

All elements of our supply chain adhere to our strict governance programme of customer specifications and codes of practice.

Given the direct relationship we have with our farmers, our compliance managers are responsible for ensuring that all our UK & EU poultry farms are regularly independently audited as part of their relevant assurance schemes. The Boparan Group also has a risk-based audit programme where audits are carried out by trained 3rd party auditors. This programme looks at animal welfare in our factories and farms and ensures compliance with the Boparan Group and business customers’ codes of practice.

Food safety standards and HACCP principles apply across the agriculture operation and consumers can be assured of the strict provenance and traceability of our chicken.

Our growing partners also have an assigned person to ensure good welfare is maintained. Implementation of the Welfare Policy is verified by a risk-based audit programme and regular discussions with our growing partners

All UK factory & farm animal welfare training (Poultec for on-farm training, Bristol University for AWO training) is carried out by our suppliers and are trained to required NVQ Levels, with retraining carried out as and when required. This training includes poultry welfare, farm hygiene, biosecurity, gait scoring, heat stress management and catching & handling.

Leadership and Innovation

We strive to improve standards of production and we are currently working to develop a partnership to measure of natural behaviour in poultry and provide better environmental enrichment for our chickens. (Click here for FAI Press Statement & Project Report)

Our poultry business, UK Poultry has an extensive research programme with investments currently made in the following areas:


UK Poultry are involved with industry lead initiatives such as Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured, NFU and the British Poultry Council with representation on technical, antibiotic stewardship, TAC, processing and growers committees, providing base information when requested.

We are part of the initiative to support the responsible use of antibiotics in the UK food chain which has the stated vision of ‘retailers, manufacturers and processors coming together to promote and support responsible antibiotic use and tackle antimicrobial resistance’. The intention of this initiative is to support and engage with existing industry groups working in this area, ensuring work is aligned, avoiding duplication of effort and it has 3 key working groups on Responsible Use, Data and Research & Development.

The Boparan Group also promotes higher farm animal welfare to consumers through education and/or awareness-raising activities.

Co-op Pioneer Programme

The Co-op Pioneer programme was first launched in 2016 with the aim of developing the skills and experiences of young farmers in our supply chains to help build the farming communities of the future for all agriculture and horticulture sectors. These visits are a valuable experience to a young generation, as it provides the skills to help futureproof their farms and businesses, discuss areas of diversification and build networks. More importantly the programme helps promote the poultry industry and all the hard work behind producing an affordable, diverse and high-quality product.

In 2020, 2 Sisters Food Group and Kite Consulting hosted pioneers through the poultry supply chain from Farm to Fork. All 12 young farmers visited a free-range farm, standard enriched farm and the Willand processing site in Devon. The group consisted of a diverse range of farmers from across the UK and Ireland, including dairy and beef, soft fruit, onions and dried apricots. Between each visit the group would discuss the similarities and differences of each farming enterprise and sharing best practice and knowledge in doing so.

Image of co-op pioneers



Facetime a Farmer

In early 2020, 2 Sisters Food Group spent time with two primary schools in Leeds and Manchester in facilitating Facetime sessions between the children and the respective farm managers. The interaction between the farmers and the schools provided invaluable and enjoyable insight for the children on where their food comes from and how it is produced as well as an interactive experience with the chickens!

 iMage of face time a farmer at a school
Image of schools partaking in facetime a farmer


#Farm24 and Raising Consumer Awareness

2 Sisters Food Group backed the #Farm24 campaign to help support and promote British farming by showcasing a day in the life of those working in the farming industry. The annual campaign, run by Farmers Guardian, helped to show consumers the level of commitment, care and work that farmers invest into responsible food production. More than 160 million social media impressions were achieved for #Farm24 in 2019.

Image representing life on a farm
Image representing  #Farm24


Open Farm Sunday

Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day managed and supported by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and 2 Sisters Food Group. It’s a great opportunity for farmers to welcome the public onto their farm to discover real farming at first hand. Hosting an event helps the public to appreciate and value the important work we do to produce safe, nutritious food and other services, sustainably. This is a great opportunity to showcase our industry, to raise the profile of agriculture and build more support for British farming. Open Farm Sunday was delivered on a farm in Lancashire & Shropshire in 2016 and a farm in Suffolk in 2019.

Image representing open farm sunday
Farm open day Image

Across our Group, we pride ourselves on helping our business customers to support British farmers and we are more committed than ever to work in partnership with them to showcase the hard work and investment made in feeding the nation particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Image representing supportting British farmers

Performance Reporting

The Boparan Group FAW policy requirements are integrated into livestock and poultry suppliers’ contracts as part of the obligations to supply. Our terms and conditions of supply require full compliance with these policies. Any repeat incidents of non-compliance to our FAW requirements may result in a supplier and a specific production site being delisted.

Requirements for the approval of new suppliers and their specific sites include the completion of a satisfactory supplier questionnaire.

We continue to monitor the performance of our suppliers through supplier FAW self-assessment questionnaires, third party accreditations, site visits and audits.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor FAW performance was not monitored in 2019, we will endeavour to collect data and insights by 2022.

We require that our own suppliers have formal FAW policies. These must include as a mandatory minimum:

  • Provision of the five freedoms
  • Minimising close confinement
  • To prohibit slaughter without pre-stunning
  • To minimise live journey times (relevant to supplier species specific)
  • To prohibit the use of cloned animals
  • To prohibit the use of growth promoters
  • To prohibit the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics
  • Where mutilations are undertaken, these are only to be done under veterinary supervision with analgesia pain relief.

Current Species -Specific Welfare Performance

Poultry (Growers)

We grow a number of different types of chicken to meet our customer requirements, from indoor to organic standards. Irrespective of the standard required, all poultry are reared in conditions which comply with EU and source country FAW legislation as a minimum. 83.88% of RT standard, 9.38% of enhanced indoor, 1.58% of RSPCA Assured/BCC, 4.12% of Free Range and 1.01% of Organic chicken in the UK are grown to meet our business requirements. We will work with our suppliers to gain data and insights for 2022.

The Boparan Group is proud of our animal welfare programmes and the journey we are on to improve animal welfare. Over the last few months a number of our customers have made commitments to work towards standards set out in the Better Chicken Commitment or European Broiler Ask and implement them by 2026. To-date, we are growing 1.58% of our BCC chicken in Southern England.

Consistent with our history of listening to our consumers, customers and animal advocacy organisations, and in addition to our own initiatives, the Boparan Group is committed to working alongside existing and future new customers to provide products that meet the standards set out in the Better Chicken Commitment/European Broiler Ask. These standards of welfare are:

  1. Comply with all EU animal welfare laws and regulations, regardless of the country of production.

  2. Implement a maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2 or less. Thinning is discouraged and if practiced must be limited to one thin per flock.

  3. Adopt breeds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes: either the following breeds, Hubbard JA757, 787, 957, or 987, Rowan Ranger, Ranger Classic, and Ranger Gold, or others that meet the criteria of the RSPCA Broiler Breed Welfare Assessment Protocol.

  4. Meet improved environmental standards including:
    - At least 50 lux of light, including natural light.
    - At least 2m of usable perch space, and two pecking substrates, per 1,000 birds.
    - On air quality, at least the requirements of Annex 2.3 of the EU broiler directive, regardless of stocking density.
    - No cages or multi-tier systems.

  5. Adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.

  6. Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing and annual public reporting on progress towards this commitment.

We are committed to supporting our customers to bring these practices to fruition and will deliver quality welfare standards to which these companies have committed to by their respective deadlines. In our EU business around 25% of the Dutch production chain exist of slow grower breeds.

In the short term, a trial is being conducted to assess consumer demand via limited volumes over the next 12-18 months. Once consumer feedback has been obtained, the Boparan Group is committed to increase volumes to meet full retailer & food service customer requirements by 2026 and provide the necessary agriculture, processing and packing facilities to meet this demand for those retailers and food service customer who wish to commit to delivering this in the future.


Pork

Sourcing Standards

  • Pigs are reared in conditions which comply with EU and source country FAW legislation
  • 100% pork supplied to us must be accredited to at least one of the following standards; Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS), Danish Crown Standard, RSPCA Assured, Soil Association, British Quality Assured Pork (BQAP) and BMPA standard, Red Tractor Farm Assurance (or equivalent)
  • 100% of our pork is sourced from the UK and Europe
  • 100% of the pigs providing meat are pre-slaughter stunned
  • 100% of pigs in the UK & EU supply chain neither use growth promoters nor routine prophylactic antibiotics for disease prevention
  • No genetically modified or cloned pigs are permitted
  • 100% of prime pigs transported comply with EU (within 12 hours) and UK (within 8 hours) legislation

Close Confinement

  • 100% of pigs have environmental enrichment, for example straw manipulative/ malleable material, for the proper expression of pig behaviours
  • 100% of UK & EU pork products and ingredients in our supply chain are sourced from pigs that are free from sow stalls

Routine Mutilations

  • 100% of male pigs reared to supply UK sourced pork shoulder are not castrated and we continue to work with our suppliers of pigs reared outside of the UK to gain data and insights by 2022

Welfare Outcome Measures

  • Monitoring for UK sourced pigs includes lame rates and behaviours
  • WOMs for UK sourced pigs include the lame rate, which is monitored regularly by suppliers

Laying Hens

Sourcing Standards

  • Laying hens are reared in conditions which comply with EU and source country FAW legislation as a minimum
  • 100% of the whole/shell eggs and liquid egg are from a UK RSPCA Assured and BEIC Lion Code assured source
  • No genetically modified or cloned laying hens are permitted
  • 100% of UK & EU laying hens neither use growth promoters nor routine prophylactic antibiotics for disease prevention

Close Confinement

  • 100% of the laying hens are cage free
  • 100% of the laying hens are provided with enrichment, such as perches and pecking objects

Routine Mutilations

  • 100% beak trimming is permitted, but only if absolutely necessary, and should only be carried out as a one-off trim at the hatchery by a trained operator using infra-red technology
  • The risk of feather pecking must be mitigated using good management and environmental provisions

Welfare Outcome Measures

  • Feather wear should be monitored as an indication of pecking with the AssureWel criteria where 1.0 is ‘slight feather loss’ and 2.0 is ‘moderate/severe feather loss’ being adopted. We look to include this as part of the data and insights collection for 2022
  • In 2019 the overall proportion of laying hens providing eggs or egg ingredients that are cage free was 100%

Beef

Sourcing Standards

  • The beef meat supplied to us is 100% sourced from the UK and Europe
  • Beef cattle are reared in conditions which comply with EU and source country FAW legislation as a minimum
  • 100% of our UK beef cattle are from 3rd party farm assured sources, such as Red Tractor
  • No genetically modified or cloned beef cattle are permitted
  • 100% of our UK & EU beef supply neither uses growth promoters nor routine prophylactic antibiotics for disease prevention
  • 100% of beef cattle are transported in 8 hours or less with average live journey times for UK and Irish sourced beef cattle are 3-5 hours
  • 100% of the beef cattle are pre-slaughter stunned. There are contingency plans for equipment breakdown or a failure to deliver an effective stun.

Close Confinement

  • 100% of our beef cattle is not tethered
  • 100% of beef cattle supplied to us are reared in conditions where they are free from close confinement

Routine Mutilations

  • 100% of our beef cattle is not tail docked
  • Where routine de-budding is absolutely necessary, then an analgesic pain relief must be applied, as required by law

Welfare Outcome Measures

  • WOMs for beef cattle include the lame rate which will be reported regularly by suppliers and will be included in the data and insights collection in 2022.

Dairy

Sourcing Standards

  • Dairy cattle are reared in conditions which comply with UK & EU source country FAW legislation
  • All dairy cattle providing liquid milk and cream to us are reared under the 3rd party Red Tractor Farm Assurance Dairy Scheme
  • No genetically modified or cloned dairy cattle are permitted
  • 100% of diary supply neither uses growth promoters nor routine prophylactic antibiotics for disease prevention

Close Confinement

  • 100% of the milk/milk products and ingredients in our supply chain are sourced from cows that are free from tethering
  • 100% of the dairy cattle are reared in conditions where they are free from close confinement

Routine Mutilations

  • Where routine de-budding and castration is absolutely necessary, then an analgesic pain relief must be applied, as required by law

Welfare Outcome Measures

  • WOMs, including the mastitis rates, are monitored for all dairy cattle. The somatic cell count must be reported by dairy suppliers as an indicator of herd mastitis and will be included in the data and insights collection in 2022.

Next Steps for 2021

  • Further development of our supplier FAW questionnaires to include welfare outcome measures (WOMs) for all poultry and livestock. We are working with key suppliers (according to their volumes supplied) to provide regular WOMs information. This includes suppliers of eggs, beef, dairy and pork

  • Welfare outcome measures will be progressed for all poultry suppliers

  • Year on year report to be published on progress towards Better Chicken Commitment 2026 pledge

  • Year on year progress report to be published on following commitment:

    • 67.7 % of 2 Sisters UK Poultry farm base currently has 3% windows. The remaining 32.3% all have at least 1% windows. An investment programme has been implemented to convert all farms to 3% by October 2023 to meet the new Red Tractor Standard requirement.

  • Action plan to be developed to source physically certified soy for poultry feed (industry best practice is 100% by 2025)