Risk factors explained

Working conditions

Worker safety presents significant operational and reputational risks for all companies.

Key stats

of Index companies were ranked as ‘high risk’ on this category.
of companies have no policy on workers’ freedom of association.
New Zealand dairy firm Fonterra and Norwegian-based Marine Harvest were the top performing companies in this category.

Worker safety presents significant operational and reputational risks for the animal protein sector. Breaches in safety standards can result in fines, compensation payments and lost production time. In the US, for example, where the maximum line speed at poultry plants is 140 birds per minute, a stoppage of just two minutes could cause $1,000 in lost revenue. The sector is also vulnerable to labour abuse scandals, with several US and European retailers pressured into taking action over the wide presence of slave labour in the shrimp industry.

It is widely accepted that strong workplace cultures lead to increased productivity and that basic human rights and safety standards should be implemented in the workplace. In order to address this particular issue, nearly 100 investors, with over $10 trillion AUM, have backed the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, calling for transparency from food companies and others on how they manage workers.

Other findings include:

  • 55% of Index companies have no disclosure of annual injury rates.
  • Only 20 companies, including eight from China, have policies that explicitly cover the following: (i) freely chosen employment; (ii) no child labour; (iii) health and safety training; and (iv) no discrimination.

*Companies with ‘multiple’ proteins derive significant revenues from more than one protein source.