A recently published report reveals that farm animal welfare is not being properly managed and reported by the food industry.

The report, titled "The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare," provides an objective account of the state of farm animal welfare as a business issue, according to the researchers.

The benchmark of 68 global companies in the food industry found that many companies are not effectively managing the business risks or opportunities associated with farm animals, and that a majority have yet to report on how they are managing farm animal welfare.

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According to Nicky Amos, the Business Benchmark's program director, farm animal welfare is not receiving the same attention as other corporate responsibility issues.

"While over 70% of the companies covered by our assessment acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue, many have yet to publish a formal policy and fewer still have set out the specific commitments that underpin this area," Amos said. "Of the 68 companies, only 46% have published a formal farm animal welfare policy, only 41% describe how their board or senior management oversee their approach to farm animal welfare and just 26% have published objectives and targets for farm animal welfare."

Dr. Rory Sullivan, expert advisor to the Business Benchmark, said the report makes a compelling business case for companies and their investors to be concerned about farm animal welfare.

"Regulation (in particular within the European Union), consumer concern, pressure from animal welfare NGOs and media concerns about poor corporate practices mean that farm animal welfare is an important business risk and an increasingly important driver of investment value," Sullivan commented. "While there are pockets of good practice and some clear leaders, notably The Co-operative Food (UK), Noble Foods and Unilever, our research suggests that many food companies are not effectively managing risks or maximizing the business opportunities presented by farm animal welfare."