Unilever

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In May 2014, Farm Forward identified a unique opportunity to apply pressure to a multinational corporation toward a first-of-its-kind victory for male breeding chicks within the egg industry. Deemed worthless by the egg industry, hundreds of millions of male chicks are killed each year in the US alone, where day-old chicks are typically ground up while fully conscious (the industry calls this practices maceration). While maceration is an industry-wide problem, Unilever, the third largest consumer goods company in the world, has been given high marks from the welfare community for improving animal welfare standards within its supply chain.

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In June 2014, Farm Forward launched BuyingMayo.com and two accompanying viral videos to raise awareness about the practice of maceration by targeting Unilever’s Best Foods and Hellmann’s mayonnaise brands, which use hundreds of millions of eggs each year in the US alone. Visitors to BuyingMayo.com were asked to sign a petition requesting that Unilever develop an alternative to the practice of maceration within its supply chain.

In just two months, nearly half a million people watched our videos and more than ten thousand people signed our petition, and through Facebook and Twitter we exposed millions of people to messaging about the cruelty within the egg industry. Shortly after the campaign launched, Farm Forward entered negotiations with Unilever’s corporate affairs department, which requested that HSUS and Compassion in World Farming—which have praised Unilever’s animal welfare policies in the past—also join the discussion. Farm Forward offered to place a moratorium on our campaign if Unilever: 1) agreed that the routine practice of macerating day-old chicks did not conform to their animal welfare policy, 2) committed to investing in identifying and implementing an alternative to the practice, and 3) pledged to explore egg-free alternatives for their products, particularly in the event that an alternative to maceration was not found.

At the end of August, Unilever agreed to Farm Forward’s terms and updated their global website to reflect their new welfare policy. Unilever is now the only company in the world to have taken a stand against this industry-wide practice and is actively pursuing alternative technology for their entire supply chain. Unilever has also agreed to meet with Farm Forward regularly to update us on their progress.