Propelled largely by consumer demand, 2015 was the year of corporate commitments to cage-free eggs.

Rest of the farm

Customers used their buying power and voices to command more transparency in the food system and how the animals that produce our basic food staples, like eggs, are treated.

The remaining 70 billion animals industrially farmed for food annually—including meat chickens, pigs, dairy cows and cattle—are no longer part of a “niche” issue. A better life for all farm animals requires a bigger movement of change. Companies have a critical role to play here. They have a direct impact on farm animal welfare both in their own operations and through their supply chains.

In the aisles

As shoppers consider animal welfare in their purchasing decisions more than ever before, businesses are recognizing they need to respond.

"...animal welfare is now an equally critical part of operating a responsible business."

According to research, animal welfare factors into food purchasing decisions for 83 percent of millennials and 75 percent of household chief execs—moms—in the U.S. These market segments are savvy, willing to pay more for humane food options and they look at labels, websites and store signage to make their decisions.

Accordingly, many companies are changing and realizing that while environmental and social metrics have been the primary frameworks for sustainability, animal welfare is now an equally critical part of operating a responsible business. Companies leading this trend are meeting the growing expectation from consumers and investors by monitoring and reporting on performance against their improved animal welfare commitments.

The payoff for companies responding to consumer expectation can be tremendous. Transparency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. And shoppers want to flock to the companies they trust.