Cows and calves in the pasture

Mother’s Day: Chocolate companies show no sweetness to dairy cows and calves

FOUR PAWS ranks Mars, Nestlé & Co. with regards to dairy reduction strategies


Cape Town, 10.05.2023 – With its latest food industry ranking, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, has taken on some of the world´s biggest chocolate companies to assess their efforts to implement, advocate and report on strategies for dairy reduction towards high animal welfare standards and climate mitigation.

The outcome of this chocolate challenge is shocking to say the least: only two companies (Migros and Coop) are within the “Average” category*, four in the “Poor” category (including heavyweights Mars and Nestlé) while twelve participants e.g. Ferrero and Tiger Brands fall into the “Very Poor” category*.

Tiger Brands is a South African food and beverage company and producer of the chocolate brand Beacon. Tiger Brands was included within the ranking and while it was shown to have presumably a dairy-free dark chocolate, (as found in Beacon Heavenly Midnight Velvet) FOUR PAWS did not find any dairy-free ‘milk’ alternatives during the research timeframe. In addition, it did not have a publicly available animal welfare policy, dairy traceability nor support for farms in transitioning towards high welfare husbandry systems, and as a result, scored 0 points for animal welfare.

While many of the companies have vegan “milk” chocolate in their range, none of them actually 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.

Chocolate is synonymous with pleasure, celebration and comfort. None of which dairy cows get to experience. In the run-up to Mother’s Day, those who are thinking of buying milk chocolate as a gift for their loved ones may want to choose a plant-based option instead, as the negative effects of the global dairy overconsumption at present are manifold to animals and the environment alike.

Dairy reduction is not on the companies’ agenda

Despite the majority (eleven 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 CSR reports shows that none have any dairy reduction strategies, nor animal welfare policies meeting FOUR PAWS’ minimum requirements.

Sonja Svensek, Head of Nutrition at FOUR PAWS, says: “There are plenty of shortcomings from dairy products, both from an animal welfare and a climate perspective. Cows only give milk when they have a calf. This means that the cow is inseminated again soon after it has given birth. On most dairy farms, the calf is routinely separated from the mother shortly after birth. The vast majority of the female calves await the same cruel fate as dairy cows until they are eventually slaughtered. All male calves are first fattened and then sent to slaughter, which sometimes means they are shipped throughout Europe and overseas for days or even weeks.

Additionally dairy produces two to four times more greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based milks. It is imperative that chocolate companies raise the bar on animal welfare within their product ranges.”


Overproduction of dairy bears many climate risks

Over 80 per cent 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.

Background & Methodology

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, the United Kingdom, the 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%).


Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer

+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation 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 organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS 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. 

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