Press Release: 17 January 2024
PRESS RELEASE: New report ranks supermarkets so shoppers can make informed choices for higher welfare
prawns, crabs, lobsters and 'scampi'
Shoppers can now see which supermarkets and food producers care about the welfare of sentient animals such as crabs, lobsters, and prawns - with the publication of a groundbreaking report released today.
The Snapshot 2023 report ranks the welfare standards of the UK’s leading seafood retailers, producers, processors, and wholesalers in relation to animals known collectively as decapod crustaceans. These include crabs, lobsters, prawns, shrimps and langoustines, the tails of which are commonly branded and sold as scampi.
These animals were legally recognised as being sentient (capable of feeling pleasure, pain and fear) in April 2022 but millions of them still suffer unnecessarily as part of the sea-to-plate journey because the seafood industry is failing to address widespread cruel practices including animals being boiled alive while conscious; unnecessary mutilations whilst the animals are conscious; and the removal of the eyestalks from farmed prawns to promote their fertility (eyestalk ablation).
The Snapshot: Industry Benchmark on Decapod Crustacean Welfare evaluates the welfare journey of decapods, from capture through holding, handling, transportation, storage, and slaughter. It was commissioned by the UK’s leading decapod crustacean welfare organisation and not-for-profit Crustacean Compassion, and facilitated by Chronos Sustainability, the specialists behind the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW).
30 companies were ranked from the highest scores in tier 1 to the lowest in tier 5.
Of the well-known retailers only Marks & Spencer (M&S) achieved a tier 1 ranking with a score of 90%.
Waitrose scored 71% in tier 2 followed by Tesco (42%) in tier 3, and in tier 4 Sainsbury’s (34%) and Morrisons (33%).
Asda (6%) and Aldi (6%) were in the bottom tier alongside Ocado (6%), Iceland (18%) and Lidl (15%).
Household name brands Young’s Seafood (64%) and Whitby Seafoods (30%) performed better than some of the UK’s leading supermarkets on their welfare standards for decapod crustaceans.
The first Snapshot report was published in January 2023 with anonymised scoring to allow companies time to formalise and publish their decapod welfare policies. This year individual scores are being published to help consumers make informed choices.
M&S achieved their top ranking due to an extensive new decapod welfare policy including commitments such as:
To not approve/source any new supply of decapod crustacean that does not meet M&S welfare sourcing policy.
To find alternative solutions to crab claw nicking as an industry and to prohibit eyestalk ablation within the supply chains.
To not approve/source any new species of decapod crustacean which are not electrically stunned prior to kill.
To never sell any live decapod crustaceans.
Crustacean Compassion CEO, Dr Ben Sturgeon, said: “Previously, it was impossible for people to make informed choices about this type of seafood, but we hope these scores and tiers will speak for themselves and encourage shoppers to find out more about the welfare and ethics of what they are buying. Consumers can then decide if they want to vote with their shopping baskets and pick companies who can provide higher welfare products.”
Crustacean Compassion believes despite improvements from last year, it is disappointing some retailers are not treating decapod welfare with the urgency it deserves. One example is more action is desperately needed on humane stunning and slaughter methods for decapods.
Other key findings:
Previously, only 43% of companies had a decapod welfare policy but in 2023, this increased to 57%.
At least twice as many companies now publish specific decapod welfare policies covering capture methods, mutilations, holding and transport conditions, and the sale of live decapods to the public.
Now Crustacean Compassion is calling on all companies to recognise the importance of decapod welfare and commit to eliminating inhumane practices from their supply chain.
Dr Ben Sturgeon added: “The Snapshot is a great way to encourage transparency throughout the seafood supply chain and reduce unnecessary suffering for animals. It will also be a valuable tool for conscious consumers who enjoy seafood but want to make informed decisions about where they spend their money.
“Consumers expect retailers to ensure their products are ethically sourced, but surprisingly the Big Four UK supermarkets have not invested as much in decapod welfare as some of their competitors.”
“The UK seafood industry is worth £9.5bn per year and whilst decapod welfare improvements will always be our driving principle, it is clear some retailers and processors already see the commercial benefits of better welfare standards, and this will become even more evident as people start to vote with their shopping baskets by picking supermarkets who care about these animals.”
Notes to editors: For further information, images or to arrange interviews please contact Communications Manager Jo Barr at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07498 554537
Crustacean Compassion is a not-for-profit animal welfare organisation which campaigns for the legislative protection and humane treatment of decapod crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs, prawns and nephrops, based on the scientific evidence of their sentience. Crustacean Compassion does not campaign against the use of decapod crustaceans as food. Instead, it welcomes good practice in the food industry and believes all decapod crustaceans should have their species-specific needs met. For more information visit www.crustaceancompassion.org
Chronos Sustainability was established in 2017 to deliver transformative, systemic change in the social and environmental performance of key industry sectors. Chronos is involved in a wide range of global transformation projects across the sustainability spectrum and develops tools and strategies to enable its clients to accelerate action and effect real-world outcomes at scale.
Photographs and infographics are available upon request.