Cape Town: It’s great when people get recognised for doing good things. Today, I was proud to present prominent South African retailer, Woolworths, with the honour of becoming the first
company in Africa to be awarded Compassion in World Farming’s Good Egg Award.
Speaking from the podium to staff, directors and suppliers at the company’s seven storey headquarters, I talked about how taking care of animal welfare also improves the quality of the food. It was a privilege to recognise Woolworths with the award for selling only free range eggs; half a million hens enjoy fresh air and sunshine as a result of that one commitment.
Accepting the award was Woolworths’ Managing Director for food, Zyda Rylands (pictured right), who shared her delight; “We are very proud and pleased because this award recognises our commitment to animal welfare and ethical sourcing.” There was great applause when Zyda declared it a team effort throughout the business. I really got the sense of a company celebrating and getting serious about its standards; a programme they promote under the title, Good Business Journey.
Woolworths moved away from battery eggs in 2004. A decade later, it remains the country’s only retailer to have done so; and now they want to do more. The company is well on its way to banishing battery egg ingredient from its manufactured products, three quarters of which are now using free range egg in the recipe.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people during my short stay in South Africa. I’ve been struck by how people are ready to hear that better food comes from animals kept on farms rather than factories. I’ve been so pleased at the reception we’ve received for ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of meat’. I’ve got the feeling that a movement for change is starting to rise in South Africa; I feeling redoubled today at Woolworths.
It’s difficult to underestimate the importance of that one company’s move; over 90% of South Africa’s laying hens are said to be kept in barren battery cages where they can’t even flap their wings. A major retailer nailing its colours to the mast of free range is therefore very significant, and reinforces my firm belief that trail-blazing companies can be such a force for good. Tantalisingly, at Woolworths today, they were talking about there being more good stuff to come…
A big thank you to Tom Mclaughlin at Woolworths for doing so much to help bring about the change and for making today’s event happen. Grateful thanks also to Compassion’s own director in South Africa, Louise Van Der Merve, who has built a long-standing liaison with the company.
Next stop on this Farmageddon tour; Johannesburg.