Transparency is in; shrouding the supply chain in mystery is out—especially in categories like meat and protein. But being more proactive in aligning with those providers, retailers, and foodservice operators committed to transparency is often easier said than done. Enter, Shop With Your Heart, a program launched in 2016 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to inform consumers, food businesses, and lawmakers about solutions to this problem.
Now, brands, farmers, and companies along the supply chain can participate in the Shop With Your Heart program to improve the lives of the nearly 10 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. each year. I chatted with Nancy Roulston, Director of Corporate Policy for the ASPCA’s Animal Welfare Department, to learn more about this savvy program building trust back into our industry.
“Meaningful farm animal welfare certification is a triple win for animals, businesses, and consumers. It means animals are reared to a comprehensive set of minimum standards that allow animals to have more space through improved housing conditions and an ability to perform natural behaviors through the provision of enrichments,” Nancy began, when I asked her how a program like Shop With Your Heart benefits the meat category as a whole. “At the same time, meaningful certifications offer food businesses access to new markets, a marketing edge against competitors, and enhanced credibility with consumers. Certification programs also help consumers cut through the label clutter and make purchasing decisions that align with their values.”
As a whole, consumers are looking for products with better stories behind them—to which Nancy noted that many of the companies behind these brands know this story includes good farm animal welfare.
“But good farm welfare goes beyond personal ethics—it’s essential for building a sustainable and trustworthy brand,” Nancy said. “More humane husbandry practices exist, and sourcing from better farms and ranches is possible. Independent farm animal welfare certifications offer the accountability that consumers demand and animals deserve.”
Many food companies across our industry’s leading sectors have partnered with the ASPCA to add animal welfare to their missions and corporate social responsibility goals. Most recently, this has included the Whole30 program, which incorporated a progressive animal welfare policy for all of its Whole30 Approved® products (over 60 brands).
“The ASPCA helps retailers, distributors, foodservice companies, and restaurants with tailored support on policy development, on-farm practices, procurement options, and recognition opportunities to the general public and millions of ASPCA supporters,” Nancy continued. “Meanwhile, as farm animal welfare issues and the importance of transparency are spotlighted by major media outlets, the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program presents farmers and businesses with the opportunity to profit by providing evidence of more humane animal care.”
Nancy pointed to the ASPCA’s updated Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide as an excellent resource to help farmers and businesses compare independent certification programs and find funding options. Specifically, the Shop With Your Heart program uses in-house knowledge of animal welfare science, certification standards, and public relations to help farmers and companies adopt meaningful and transparent animal welfare policies. The program also helps consumers find and support better options in the marketplace—including welfare-certified brands and welfare-certified farms.
“The ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program is dedicated to informing consumers about meaningfully better options in the marketplace, including those bearing animal welfare certifications Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World, Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Level 2+, and plant-based products. These animal welfare certifications that the ASPCA considers meaningful represent a spectrum of farming systems from enriched, more spacious indoor housing to pasture-based programs—and all are improvements over mainstream industrial production,” Nancy emphasized. “Packages of meat, eggs, and dairy often bear terms that appear to indicate meaningful animal welfare standards, but only a fraction of them do. We work with companies and brands to help shape their commitments to farm animal welfare and achieve third-party certification with the goal of increasing access to these higher welfare options for the country’s growing base of conscientious consumers.”
This includes getting more companies to participate in programs like the Better Chicken Commitment, which encompasses the effort to address the issues facing broiler chickens, including breed health and welfare, housing conditions (space, lighting, litter, and enrichment), and slaughter methods.
“Small farmers, large producers, independent businesses and large corporations should all play a part in building a more humane, accountable food system and stand to benefit from customer loyalty, talent draw and retention, reduced risk, and gained market opportunity,” Nancy concluded.
Inspired to do your part? We here at Deli Market News sure are. As more brands, farmers, and companies work to build a transparent tomorrow, DMN will continue to bring you the latest advancements, accomplishments, and news-worthy deeds happening in our industry.