Casino Group has been working alongside its suppliers and production channels for many years to offer products that are ever-more respectful of animal welfare.
Casino Group policy for animal welfare
As a responsible retailer, Casino Group aims to conduct a proactive policy to improve animal welfare in its supply chain and meet societal expectations of today.
In order to foster continuous improvement, Casino Group values dialogue with the different stakeholders, including NGOs, vets, suppliers and production channels, consumers and employees. With this approach, the Group wants to improve and broaden its product offering that better respect animal welfare, enabling customers to consume higher quality products that also guarantee a better farm animal care.
The approach involves controlling conditions in which livestock is reared, transported and slaughtered, and also supporting production channels to implement better farming practices for animal welfare.
Aware that animal welfare information on products is crucial to improve the living conditions of animals, Casino Group is developing a labelling project, with three established animal welfare organizations. The aim of this project is to create a solution to contribute to the implementation of a new harmonized sign in France. The Group intends thereby to encourage consumers to choose the most animal friendly products.
The Group has an animal welfare approach focused on innovation and progress, involving all concerned stakeholders:
- Upstream production: As a trusted partner, the Group is working to maintain a constructive dialogue with upstream production (breeding farms and slaughterhouses), with the ongoing goal to improve practices.
- NGOs: The Group is supported by partner French NGOs – La Fondation Droit Animal (LFDA), Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) France and l’Œuvre d’Assistance aux Bêtes d’Abattoirs (OABA).
- Vets: The Group also relies on experts for a better attention to animal welfare issues all throughout the supply chain.
- Consumers: As a responsible retailer, Casino Group is committed to the quality of its products and intends to better inform consumers about animal welfare.
- Stores: Stores from the different banners of Casino Group contribute to the promotion of products coming from production channels that better respect animal welfare.
- Employees: The Group wants to pay special attention to its employees, by increasing their awareness about animal welfare issues.
In order to develop its animal welfare policy, Casino Group endorses the following Five Freedoms proposed by Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), which are universally regarded as a reference:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst – by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
- 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 behavior – 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.
By relying on the expertise of its employees, suppliers and partner NGOs, Casino Group wants to ensure respect for the Five Freedoms across the supply chain (rearing, transport, slaughtering).
The animal welfare strategy is defined at the highest level by the CSR Strategic Committee, including 12 members with 8 of them being members of the Executive Committee. In France, the policy is conducted by the Animal Welfare Steering Committee, which is a multidisciplinary team involving all concerned stakeholders:
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),
- Quality – with an animal welfare referent,
The Animal Welfare Steering Committee is aimed at:
- ensuring operational coordination of the policy,
- carrying out benchmarking and documentary monitoring,
- defining specific key performance indicators for animal welfare
- ensuring effective progress monitoring
- capitalizing on the best practices
- defining improvement plans
The different stakeholders meet regularly for working groups in which partner NGOs participate – La Fondation Droit Animal (LFDA), Compassion in World Farming France (CIWF France), l’Œuvre d’Assistance aux Bêtes d’Abattoirs (OABA) as well as, occasionally, some suppliers willing to work alongside Casino Group in a continuous improvement process.
The purpose of these working groups is to fuel Animal Welfare Steering Committee and:
- Define Casino Group strategy on animal welfare;
- Improve the slaughterhouses auditing program: audit grids, procedures, improvement plans;
- Develop the labelling project on animal welfare that could serve as a basis for a national framework
Working groups meet quarterly.
By early 2000, the Group has set up an ethical chart dedicated to suppliers, in order to ensure compliance of social conditions in the Group for own-brand products.
In order to encourage a better consideration of animal welfare among suppliers, Casino Group has actualized in 2016 its Supplier Charter of Ethics to include the Five Freedoms pointed out by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. This Charter was updated to remind suppliers that they have to undertake to respect these fundamental principles related to animal welfare.
In its approach, Casino Group is developing tools making it possible to monitor the successful conduct of its animal welfare policy and its continuous optimization:
- Audit grids in breeding farms and slaughterhouses: they will be used to control all throughout the life of the animal the respect of good practices.
- Slaughterhouses audits: suppliers are audited with a defined frequency, to control the respect of policy’s requirements:
- Absence of animal suffering, from transportation to slaughterhouse,
- Quality of animal stunning prior to bleeding, thanks to systematic controls,
- Fitness for transport for all animals,
- Permanent presence of an animal protection professional at the facility (called “RPA” in France – “Responsable Protection Animale”),
- Training of all employees in direct contact with living animals,
- Presence of specifications or signed contracts, between Casino and suppliers.
- Key Performance Indicators: for the different species, Casino Group started to define through its Animal Welfare Steering Committee key performance indicators, to track progress internally. For example, for broiler chickens, one of the key performance indicators is the proportion of broilers raised without antibiotic treatments, which contributes to good animal welfare practices in these farms.
Casino Group’s commitments
In France, Casino is committed for its own-brand products to:
- Define minimum requirements for animal welfare that apply to its own brands, for meat, eggs, dairy, seafood and covering all stages of rearing, transport and slaughtering;
- Define action plans for each sourcing channel to progressively improve animal welfare, species by species;
- Broaden product offering that better respect animal welfare;
- Improve the supplier auditing program on animal welfare, starting with the control of slaughtering conditions for meat sourcing channel;
- Improve the information delivered to the consumer by developing and testing a labelling project on animal welfare in its stores, contributing to a new harmonized national sign in France.
Defining minimum requirements for animal welfare that apply to its own brands
The Group is committed to improving farming conditions for laying hens.
The Casino Group is the first retailer in France and Brazil to commit to stopping sales of eggs from caged hens, as such making the most ambitious pledge in the industry:
- In France, as of 2013, its Monoprix banner discontinued sales of eggs from caged hens, first across its own-brand products, then across national brand products in 2016. In 2017, the Casino, Franprix and Leader Price banners made a similar promise for 2020.
Also in France, the Casino Group banners will no longer use egg products from caged hens in all their private-label products by 2025. This commitment extends beyond the one already taken for regular eggshells.
- In Brazil, the Group’s GPA subsidiary has committed to removing eggs from caged hens from sale by 2025 across its own brands, in line with the public health regulations and requirements set out by the Brazilian Minister for Agriculture.
- GPA has committed to assess with the poultry industry and stakeholders the actions that can be set up in the short term for national brands products.
- GPA is the only retailer to have made such a commitment in Brazil.
The Group has also made further commitments on seafood sourcing, having several years ago already ceased the sale of certain endangered species:
- In particular, deepwater fish such as the orange roughy, blue ling, scabbard, grenadier and cusk, as well as endangered species such as eel, grouper, piked dogfish, school shark and blue shark;
- Animal welfare is an integral part of the Group’s specifications regarding fish products, including sea bass, sea bream, salmon and trout. The specifications help to improve conditions for fish, by ensuring strict monitoring of the:
- level of oxygen in the water, to reduce stress to the fish;
- water quality so the animals can develop properly in better living conditions;
- animal behaviour (an early indicator of disease, parasites or injury);
- number of fish per cage or tank to avoid overcrowding;
- diet, which must be appropriate in terms of both quality and quantity to each species.
In accordance with regulation, the use of antibiotics as growth promoting substances and the use of meat-and-bone meal for animal food are prohibited.
Broadening product offering that better respects animal welfare
Casino offers a vast assortment of products that are respectful of animal welfare, in particular with meats:
- organically farmed, which assures customers of higher animal welfare standards. The organic label requires for example animals to be free-range or free-roaming, with access to outdoor areas, and that pigs be reared using straw bedding rather than slatted floors;
- sold under Casino’s own brand “Terre et Saveurs”, such as the free-range chicken sourced from Gers in southwest France. This brand created in 2002 ensures good farming conditions: for example the farmer must be aware of animal welfare and avoid stress and pain for the animals when handled;
- reared without the use of antibiotic treatments (poultry and pigs), which contributes to good animal welfare practices in these farms. This type of farming requires even more demanding animal welfare standards: best practices in farming, sheds in good condition, heightened surveillance of chicken health and a high-quality diet adapted to the various stages of the animals’ life.
- from higher quality sourcing channels for lamb, heifer and horse. The Casino Group has put in place:
- a sourcing channel for lamb products from the Unicor cooperative and the Arcadie Sud-Ouest slaughterhouse in order to guarantee the best possible animal welfare conditions: clean sheds, controlled temperature, appropriate food distribution, limited time in transport and individual electronic tracing for animals;
- local, high-quality sourcing channels for beef products from five cooperatives like Altitude: cattle born and reared in the Massif Central in the middle of southern France, spending at least four months in pasture.
- a local horse sourcing channel with animals born, raised and slaughtered in the western central and north-west of France, with reduced transport time (350 kilometers maximum), ending the sourcing of horses in South America.
The Casino Group is also working towards improving the welfare of dairy cows by selling organically produced milk under its own brands at a number of its subsidiaries, and other milks more respectful of animal welfare:
- Casino supports the “Milk produced in Monts du Forez” group, which offers better farming conditions. This milk is produced exclusively by a group of small, family-run farms in Monts du Forez, in the middle of southern France, using traditional methods. The cows are fed almost entirely on grass and spend over six months of the year in fields situated at 700m above sea level;
- Franprix also sells Cant’Avey’Lot milk under the “Milk from the Lot Valley” brand that comes from a local production of 30 farmers in Cantal, Lot and Aveyron French regions, and meets the specifications of the “Bleu Blanc Coeur” charter.
Improving the supplier auditing program on animal welfare, starting with the control of slaughtering conditions for meat sourcing channel
The Group has also set up a slaughterhouse oversight program. More than 60% of the meat sourced by the Group come from cattle slaughterhouses that have been audited since 2015. These audits make it possible to monitor animal suffering, the effectiveness of stunning, the presence of an animal protection professional at the facility, training of employees in contact with animals on welfare, equipment and transportation quality.
Improving the information delivered to the consumer
With its partner NGOs LFDA, CIWF France and OABA, the Casino Group aims at developing and testing a labelling project on animal welfare in its stores, contributing to a new harmonized national sign in France. See here the press release.
Through its Monoprix banner, Casino Group has won several Compassion in World Farming awards: the Good Egg Commendation at the 2013 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, the Good Dairy Commendation in 2014 for its commitment to cows’ welfare, the Good Egg Award in 2016 and the Good Rabbit Commendation in 2017.
In 2017, Casino Group was rewarded for its commitment to laying hens with the Good Egg Award.