Animal welfare among top priorities for large retailers

One of the biggest shifts in consumer priorities the Loblaws group of companies observed a few years ago

One of the biggest shifts in consumer priorities the Loblaws group of companies observed a few years ago was how livestock producers treat their animals.

That shift has given one of Canada’s largest retailers food for thought, explained Bob Chant, senior vice-president of corporate affairs and communications. He spoke at the Social License in Agriculture conference in Leduc Thursday, March 12.

Customer satisfaction is paramount to success

Most recently, the list of most important priorities for consumers was listed as local sourcing-53 per cent; healthier choices-49 per cent; waste reduction-41 per cent and animal welfare-40 per cent.

“If we don’t get it right with our customers, it’s no good,” said Chant.

To do that however, Loblaws works closely with its suppliers areas such as palm oil, consumers’ health and they have a goal to be fully sustainable with their seafood products. He estimates sustainability at 88 to 89 per cent. “We haven’t quite got to 100 per cent sustainable point yet. But we will.”

He wanted producers to know that it is a growing trend with large companies to have a system in place; and transparency, a key topic at the conference, is another area that will bring benefits to farmers. The trick for Loblaws, he said, is consultation with all stakeholders; not just animal rights groups but also producers.

Consumers trust corporate responsibility

Chant says if large corporations show a strong commitment to community, investment people tend to trust them more. He says the issue is not how much money a company makes but how engaged they are with the community.

“If you get it right, they’ll cheer you on,” he explained.