Dairy cow

Mother´s Day: new report says chocolate companies can do better for mother cows

FOUR PAWS ranks Mars, Hersey’s and Nestlé as “poor” in dairy reduction efforts


BOSTON – MAY 10, 2023 Chocolate is synonymous with pleasure, celebration, and comfort. Sadly, none of which dairy cows get to experience.  

With its latest food industry ranking, FOUR PAWS has taken on some of the world´s biggest chocolate producers to assess their efforts to implement, advocate and report on strategies for dairy reduction. The global animal welfare organization advocates for high animal welfare standards and climate mitigation practices in industries that rely on animals, including dairy. If those high animal welfare standards cannot be attained, then reduction and/or substitution is key.  

In the run-up to Mother’s Day, The FOUR PAWS Chocolate Challenge confirms the sad truth about the lives of mother cows. “Cows only give milk when they have a calf. This means that the cow is inseminated again soon after it has given birth,” explained Sonja Svensek, Head of Nutrition at FOUR PAWS. Sonja continued, “On most dairy farms, the calf is routinely separated from the mother shortly after birth. Most female calves await the same cruel fate as dairy cows until they are eventually slaughtered.”  

Only two companies (Migros and Coop) are within the “Average” category*, four in the “Poor” category (including heavyweights Mars and Nestlé), while twelve participants, (including Ferrero, Hershey’s, and Alfred Ritter) fall into the “Very Poor” category*. Despite the majority (11 out of 18) of the companies in the ranking already offering at least one dairy-free “milk” chocolate, in which dairy is replaced by plant-based alternatives, such as oat milk, nut butters, or rice syrup, none of the assessed companies have a strategy to increase this share. A look at the respective corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports show that none have any dairy reduction strategies, nor animal welfare policies meeting FOUR PAWS’ minimum requirements.  

"There are plenty of shortcomings from dairy products, both from an animal welfare and a climate perspective. Additionally dairy produces two to four times more greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based milks. It is imperative that chocolate companies raise the bar of animal welfare within their product ranges.” 

-Sonja Svensek, Head of Nutrition at FOUR PAWS

Over 80 percent of the world´s agricultural land is used for animal agriculture. A continued production growth of animal-based products happens at the cost of forests and other ecosystems. The land use for cow’s milk is more than tenfold that of plant-based milk. Measures must be undertaken to mitigate the impact on the environment. Livestock farming accounts for 1/6th of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions of which one third is caused by the dairy production.   

While many of the companies have vegan “milk” chocolate in their range, none of them have a concrete reduction strategy of dairy in place even though it is a known fact, that dairy is as bad for the animals as it is for the climate. FOUR PAWS urges the industry to set clear goals towards a reduction of animal-based ingredients and higher animal welfare standards.  

So, for those who are thinking of buying milk chocolate as a gift for their loved ones, FOUR PAWS encourages you to choose a plant-based option instead, as the negative effects of global dairy overconsumption are harmful for animals and the environment alike. 

*The FOUR PAWS Chocolate Challenge, which is part of the Atlas Challenge ranking series, depicts the level of effort and performance of some of the leading chocolate companies in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, the Netherlands and South Africa on their dairy reduction strategies and plant-based alternatives. This was done through research conducted via publicly available information online, as well as by sending out a questionnaire between December 2022 and January 2023. Companies that did not respond or refused to participate, were evaluated solely by FOUR PAWS research on publicly available information online. Companies were evaluated in four categories - product portfolio, animal welfare, animal-friendly climate measures and dairy reduction - and on a grading system – Very Poor (0-20%), Poor (21-40%), Average (41-60%), Good (61-80%) and Very Good (81-100%).  

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.fourpawsusa.org 

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