10-4-13 1:12 PM EDT | Email Article

Tim Hortons and the University of Guelph host Sustainable Food Management Summit

Canada NewsWire

New research by University of Guelph focuses on animal welfare and sustainability in foodservice and retail industry supply chains

OAKVILLE, ON, Oct. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Tim Hortons, in partnership with the University of Guelph and the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW), hosted an industry summit designed to identify opportunities and barriers in the development of sustainable supply chains, with animal welfare considerations in the foodservice and retail industries.

The Summit provided a forum for sharing information and research among various stakeholders on the state of animal welfare and sustainability standards in food supply chains. The Summit also focused on the importance of stakeholders working together to establish such enhanced, consistent animal welfare standards in today's food system.

"We are thrilled with the turnout of industry stakeholders such as farmers, producers, restaurant chains, retailers, academics and animal welfare experts at our Sustainable Food Management Summit," said John Hemeon, executive vice president of supply chain, Tim Hortons. "Tim Hortons is committed to improving the quality of animals' lives in our supply chain in a pragmatic, responsible manner. We hope that by continuing to engage the industry in meaningful discussions, we can help identify additional opportunities for collaboration, which is crucial to the process and continued progress."

New research conducted by the University of Guelph was funded in part by the Tim Hortons Sustainable Food Management Fund, created in 2012 and designed to advance the state of sustainable food management practices including animal welfare.

Dr. Michael von Massow, professor in the College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph, presented key findings from one of the phases of the Tim Hortons-supported research, which evaluated consumer and stakeholder perceptions of animal welfare and sustainability in the foodservice and retail industries. Ipsos Canada conducted the research and more than 1,000 Canadian consumers across the country were surveyed.

Findings included:

  • There is increasing consumer awareness and concern about animal welfare, which along with nutrition, ranked in the second tier of importance when purchasing food. Price, freshness, taste and safety ranked in the top tier. There was a significant segment of the population for whom animal welfare was an important consideration
  • Consumers want more information about how their food is produced and say it will influence their choices. They are unsure about how the food they buy now is produced. About 50 per cent of respondents didn't know the housing systems used for the pork they purchased, while 25 per cent didn't know the housing systems used for the eggs they purchased

Dr. von Massow also highlighted a number of key findings from broader stakeholder research, including:

  • There is no agreement or consensus yet between consumers and industry stakeholders on what specifically should drive animal welfare standards but there is strong agreement that progress needs to be made and commitment to making progress
  • In addition to developing new standards for animal care, the industry needs to develop a strategic implementation plan to ensure that the outcomes achieved are consistent with the objectives

"The summit discussions and the results of the University of Guelph's independent study reveal gaps in consumers' understanding of animal welfare and production in the foodservice industry," said Julia Christensen Hughes, Dean of the College of Management and Economics, University of Guelph. "What and how the industry communicates to consumers on animal welfare initiatives is important and we hope this event will encourage the industry to work together to build more sustainable supply chains and establish more humane and sustainable housing systems for farm animals."

Dr. Sandra Edwards was the keynote luncheon speaker at the event.  Dr. Edwards is a leading animal welfare expert in the United Kingdom and the European Union and shared her experience and perspectives on setting and implementing animal welfare standards, as well as emerging issues and perspectives in Europe.

Other speakers included renowned animal welfare experts Dr. Tina Widowski of The University of Guelph and the CCSAW and Dr. Ed Pajor of the University of Calgary Veterinary School. Dr. Widowski and Dr. Pajor discussed the state of animal welfare science specific to eggs and pork respectively. Jackie Wepruk of the National Farm Animal Care Council and Barbara Cartwright of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies presented Canadian perspectives of animal welfare codes of practice and the national code development process.

More information about Tim Hortons Animal Welfare initiatives and commitments can be found at http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/difference/animal-welfare.html

About Tim Hortons Inc.

Tim Hortons is one of the largest publicly-traded restaurant chains in North America based on market capitalization, and the largest in Canada. Operating in the quick service segment of the restaurant industry, Tim Hortons appeals to a broad range of consumer tastes, with a menu that includes premium coffee, espresso-based hot and cold specialty drinks (including lattes, cappuccinos and espresso shots), specialty teas and fruit smoothies, fresh baked goods including our trademark donuts, grilled Panini and classic sandwiches, wraps, soups, prepared foods and other food products. As of June 30th, 2013, Tim Hortons had 4,304 systemwide restaurants, including 3,468 in Canada, 807 in the United States and 29 in the Gulf Cooperation Council. More information about the Company is available at www.timhortons.com.  Follow Tim Hortons on Twitter: www.twitter.com/timhortons.

SOURCE Tim Hortons

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