Salmon farmers dominate the latest Coller FAIRR Protein Index, which ranks the world’s key food producers on sustainability

Salmon farmers top global protein production rankings

Salmon farmers dominate the latest Coller FAIRR Protein Index, which ranks the world’s key food producers on sustainability

By Fabian Dawson

Salmon farmers stand out as the top sustainable protein producers in a global ranking of the world’s largest publicly listed food companies, announced today.

Topping the list for the second year in a row is Mowi, while three other aquaculture firms, including Grieg Seafood, made the top 10 list of the   Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index. 

The Index, assesses the world’s 60 largest publicly-listed animal protein producers, worth a combined $338 billion. Firms are ranked against ten environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related criteria – including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, deforestation, antibiotic usage and working conditions. It is the world’s only benchmark dedicated to profiling animal protein producers and showcasing critical gaps and areas of best practice in the sector.

“The fact that Mowi is ranked as number one yet again is a testament to the vision of our leadership team and the commitment of everybody at Mowi to execute this vision,” said Mowi CEO, Ivan Vindheim.

“2020 has been and continues to be a challenging year for all businesses, but this shows that Mowi has managed to remain true to its values and stated commitments to be a sustainable protein producer and lead the Blue Revolution,” he said.

Mowi, the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon with global operations, employs about 600 people to produce 45,000 tonnes of farm-raised fish in BC.

In sixth place of the global ranking is Grieg Seafood, which has been farming salmon in BC for 20 years. Grieg operates 22 farm sites and a land-based freshwater hatchery to produce 23,400 tonnes of salmon annually primarily destined for the North American and Asian markets.

This years FAIRR index comes in the wake of plans by BC salmon farmers to directly invest $1.4 billion in innovation, new technology and infrastructure, to boost Canada’s post pandemic recovery.

The investments through 2050 would create almost 10,000 new jobs and add a cumulative $44 billion in new economic activity to propel Canada’s Blue Economy, said a report by RIAS Inc., an independent economics consulting firm.

When it comes to mitigating Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, salmon farmers and other aquaculture operations were also given top marks by the Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index.

It is an especially important metric to counter the activist lobby in BC, which wants to oust salmon farmers from the oceans and replace their production with land-based operations.

In BC alone, moving the current production of Atlantic salmon to land based tanks will result in an increase 22,881,000 kgs of Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions. That is equivalent to the energy needed per year to power a population of 52,200 or a city the size of North Vancouver.

In addition, raising fish on land will move the industry away from coastal communities to bigger markets in the US and make BC raised salmon, which is the provinces top seafood export, valued at about $550 million annually, much more expensive.

The authors of the index were disappointed by the overall progress made by other sectors, especially meat and dairy suppliers, towards climate commitments. They found 86 percent of major meat and dairy suppliers failed to declare or set meaningful reduction targets for all greenhouse gas emissions.

Some key findings from the Index include:

  • Alternative proteins: A 46% rise this year in the number of Index companies meeting best practice on alternative proteins: 22 firms in 2020, compared to 15 last year, and 5 in 2018. Canadian firm Maple Leaf is the only company to achieve a 100% score in this category, and have set a target to achieve $3 billion in plant protein sales by 2029.
  • Antibiotics: 70% (42 firms) rank as ‘high risk’ for antibiotic stewardship.  Although it is encouraging that four companies started disclosing antibiotics data this year. All beef or dairy firms in the Index rank as high risk and fail to disclose information on antibiotics usage. British Columbia’s salmon farmers are among the top performers when it comes to reduction in the use of antibiotics with less than 5 percent of their farmed salmon requiring antibiotics during their lifetime.
  • Waste Management: 49 of 50 (98%) of meat and dairy companies rank as high risk and do not discuss metrics or targets to manage wastewater or other potential pollutants. This is the risk factor with the lowest average score among all Index companies.
  • Deforestation: 72% (43) of all companies are ranked as high risk on deforestation. Only 2 of the 50 meat and dairy companies (excluding fish farmers) have a comprehensive policy to address or mitigate deforestation in all regions in which they source soy. Nordea Asset Management recently dropped Index Brazilian company JBS from all its funds over concerns stemming from the company’s handling of deforestation and other sustainability issues.
  • Water use: This year, 7 companies are conducting risk assessments for water use in owned facilities compared to two last year. However, 8 of 50 (16%) meat and dairy companies still have no disclosure relating to water use and a majority of companies do not measure and report on water scarcity.
  • Animal welfare: 41 companies (68%) are categorised as high risk on animal welfare, with more poultry & eggs companies categorised high risk than any other protein. Only 8 companies in this year’s Index rank as ‘low risk’, and many still have no disclosure on animal welfare metrics.
  • Governance: Two-thirds (67%) of companies rank as ‘high risk’ on sustainability governance, a new risk factor introduced to the Index this year. Only two Index companies are categorised as low risk: Aquaculture firms Bakkafrost and Mowi.
  • Working conditions: Over half of Index firms (57%) rank as high risk on working conditions. Only 28% (17) of Index firms report having worker representatives on their health and safety committees.
  • Food safety: As the risk factor with the highest average score, 43% of Index companies rank as medium risk on food safety. 75% disclose that facilities have achieved certification recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). However only eight companies report that 100% of facilities are GFSI certified.

(Image courtesy of Mowi)