SÃO PAULO—Animal welfare is a theme that has already gained traction within Latin America agribusiness, with an increasing number of companies taking stronger and more consistent actions to ensure more humane treatment of animals used in food production. To increase the dialogue on this market change, an international symposium, Animal Welfare: A Sustainable Business Strategy, was held on November 18 and 19 at Hotel Belas Artes in São Paulo. The symposium featured speakers from five countries and more than 150 professionals from throughout Latin America’s animal agriculture supply chain.
Hosted by Humane Society International and World Animal Protection, the event facilitated discussion and the exchange of ideas and expertise among representatives of the food, production, retail, financial and government sectors around actions and commitments aimed at promoting the welfare of pigs and egg laying hens.
“HSI welcomed the opportunity to host and participate in this critical dialogue between companies and producers as they work to transition to cage- and crate-free production systems. In just two years’ participation in forums like this has more than doubled in Latin America, and clearly represents the growing interest, consumer support, and changing marketplace for more humane farming. As pointed out by many of the speakers, how animals are raised and the conditions they endure go hand in hand with a more sustainable future,” stated Carolina Maciel, director of Humane Society International in Brazil.
Producers are adapting their systems to meet new consumer demand, which is largely focused on animal welfare and sustainability. According to Mateus Paranhos da Costa, professor at São Paulo State University, who spoke about “demystifying” animal welfare, “The organization of this event is extremely timely, as it reinforces the need to integrate the animal welfare issue as one [of economic] sustainability criteria. There are many benefits to this integration, with ethical and practical implications for all livestock production chains, given the evidence that promoting the welfare of farm animals has the potential to contribute to the maintenance of balanced natural environments, healthy communities and the economic vitality of livestock activities.”
To complement, Leonardo Lima, corporate director of Social Commitment and Sustainable Development at Arcos Dorados, McDonald’s brand operator in Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “Arcos Dorados is a company with a long history of investing in sustainable initiatives in Brazil and Latin America and we are challenged to find new opportunities and use our scale to make a positive impact on the planet. Within this premise, we are pioneers in taking on challenging goals of sustainable livestock. We have also begun purchasing eggs from cage-free hens and have limited the use of gestation crates for pork producers. Animal welfare is one of our priorities and this Symposium is an opportunity to discuss the issue, learn about the actions being taken by the industry, and influence the whole chain.”
To give the discussion a global perspective, the symposium presented lectures from academic experts Dr. Linda Keeling of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who spoke about the connections between animal welfare and sustainable development, and Dr. Natalie Waran of New Zealand, who spoke about the relationship between human health and animal welfare.
One example of successful transition to cage-free egg production is Planalto Ovos (Brazil), a cage-free egg producer that was represented by Daniel Mohallen, director of the company: “This International Symposium is of paramount importance for the consolidation and recognition of production methods focused on animal welfare, mainly because it contains scientifically based discussions between scholars, researchers and participants in the production chain. Caring for animals is much more than a trend: it is a worldwide concern. We at Planalto Ovos feel privileged to be part of this great event.”
Humane Society International and World Animal Protection are working around the world to end the unnecessary suffering of farm animals. “The topic has been widely discussed since the 1970s, when consumers in Europe began to mobilize about how animals were reared. In Brazil, the public is raising their awareness regarding animal welfare. This is a topic that directly interferes in the purchase decision in a lot of countries, and in Brazil this trend will only grow. This is why companies have been putting the animal welfare team in their business strategies”, points out José Rodolfo Ciocca, manager of Humane and Sustainable Agriculture Campaigns for World Animal Protection. According to research commission by our organisation, 68% of Brazilians eat meat four times a day throughout the week. Of these, 82% are concerned with protein origin — proof that animal welfare and sustainability are important to the market.
Media contact: Maria Fernanda Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org, +55 (11) 9 79909922