Unpacking Labour Risk in Global Meat Supply Chains

The FAIRR Initiative is leading a collaborative engagement to address labour risks in global protein value chains. The impact of COVID-19 on production line workers around the world has exposed the materiality of working conditions, including supply chain disruptions, reputational risks, fines, prosecutor investigations, and lawsuits from employees. 
This engagement addresses the fundamental and structural human capital risks in the animal farming industry that have led to the disastrous response to the pandemic. We encourage seven of the largest global protein producers to implement long-term changes while empowering workers to support risk mitigation in three key areas: Health and Safety, Fair Working Conditions and Worker Representation.

Phase 1 of the engagement has now closed. All seven target companies have either submitted a formal response in writing, responded to their final FAIRR assessment, or held meetings with investors. The Unpacking Labour Risk in Global Meat Supply Chains Phase 1 progress report is now available.

Phase 2 of the Working Conditions engagement will be opening for investor sign-on in Q1 2022. For more information or access to meeting notes, please contact [email protected]


Livestock workers and their communities face over 51% to 75%higher COVID-19 contagion rates and 37% to 50% more deaths. The pandemic has highlighted that the high risk faced by meat workers is not only linked to the labour-intensive nature of the job and plant ergonomics, but also that current labour management strategies of protein producers exacerbate this risk across the supply chain.

COVID-19 has shown how failing to protect meat workers drives labour shortages that cause immediate material damages to producers, including disruption of operations and food supply chains globally. Meat producers around the world are now facing fines, prosecution investigations, employee litigation, and even bans on imports to leading consumer markets like China.

Therefore, there is a clear need to strengthen the labour standards and corporate practices of animal protein producers beyond the pandemic to mitigate labour risk in the industry. This is particularly relevant in the face of broader industry trends that pose serious human capital challenges, such as the transition to a green economy and automation. Strong labour management strategies will be instrumental in defining the social impact of future food production.


Explore our key research on Working Conditions to learn more about the material impact on animal protein producers.

  • FAIRR Conversations Podcast: Counting the Cost of Conditions for Meat Industry Workers

Related resources

Leverage FAIRR’s resources to gain insight into labour issues in the animal protein industry.