PARMA–Italian food group Barilla, the world’s largest pasta manufacturer, is the recipient of this year’s Henry Spira Humane Corporate Progress Award, a recognition given by the Humane Society of the United States to companies that adopt policies which have a significant positive impact on animals. Humane Society International, which is the international arm of the Humane Society of the United States, joins in celebrating Barilla’s transition to responsible sourcing of cage-free eggs in its global supply chain. Barilla is one of only a handful of companies in the world to achieve a 100% cage-free egg supply chain ahead of schedule.
HSI’s first contact with Barilla was in late 2016, and in just a matter of months the Italian company committed to this animal welfare goal and achieved it in 2019, one year before the publicly announced 2020 deadline. Barilla provides yearly progress updates and egg sourcing statistics in its annual sustainability report. Barilla’s global policy applies to each of the six countries where the group operates. Barilla’s operations require 23.000 tons of eggs per year. The implementation of this animal welfare policy is changing the lives of an estimated two million laying hens worldwide each year.
Elena Franchi, purchasing manager at Barilla’s headquarters, stated: “We seek to do the right thing in our business model, and that’s what we’ve done here. We benefited from the steady and constructive support of Humane Society International, and our partnership was crucial to Barilla’s early completion of our stated goal. Particularly in Brazil, where we have been present for only a few years, the support of HSI has been critical for the success.”
Barilla joins a growing list of global companies transitioning to cage-free eggs. Cage-free production systems typically offer hens higher levels of welfare, allowing the birds to express more of their natural behaviors, including moving around, laying eggs in nests, perching, and fully spreading their wings. Although conventional cages have been prohibited in the European Union from January 2012, enriched cages are still legal and in Italy, 62% of hens are still raised in cages. Barilla’s policy recognizes the need to exclude cages altogether, ensuring higher welfare for egg-laying chickens.
Martina Pluda, director for HIS in Italy, says Barilla’s example has wider implications. “The company’s leadership is setting an important precedent for other companies, many of whom have made public commitments to go cage-free but have yet to make significant progress. I am very pleased that an Italian company is able to set such an important global standard within the food industry. Ensuring a better treatment of the animals involved is a shared responsibility of consumers and producers alike, and I would like to encourage more companies to follow this example. We look forward to working with Barilla’s leadership to promote the corporate progress vision at the heart of the Spira Award.”
The Henry Spira Awards recognize significant corporate animal welfare commitments in the memory of Henry Spira (1927-1998), a legendary Belgian-American humane advocate who specialized in constructive engagement with corporations committed to an animal welfare mandate as part of their corporate social responsibility missions. He is considered one of the most effective animal advocates of the 20th century.
- Martina Pluda, HSI in Italy, Country Director: email@example.com; +39 371 4120885
- Andrea Belli, Barilla, Group Communication and External Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org; +39 0521 262217