4 June 1999

Animal comfort makes sound business sense

WELFARE schemes should not be about marketing hype and should benefit all stakeholders, not just consumers and retailers.

Vince Cartledge, operations manager of Freedom Foods, said improving animal welfare made good commercial sense for livestock producers.

"The damage to live animals as a result of overcrowding, bullying, inadequate trough space and poor transportation is costing the UK leather industry £50m a year," he pointed out.

"In addition, the average weight of rejected meat a carcass due to bruising is about 0.3kg. Assuming a £2/kg wholesale price, this represents about £600 for every 1000 animals slaughtered, a £1.5m a year loss to the meat trade."

Freedom Foods has grown considerably since its launch in 1994. There are now 16m farm animals reared under the scheme by over 3700 members – producers, hauliers, abattoirs and processors.

Freedom Foods general manager, Mike Sharpe, added that most farmers were receiving a premium for animals and products produced under the scheme. For eggs that was about 2p/dozen and for beef and lamb 5p/kg deadweight.