Waitrose hailed after rolling out first-of-its-kind animal welfare app

Last year, Waitrose rolled out new mobile technology to assess the 'emotional state' of its suppliers' farm animals
Last year, Waitrose rolled out new mobile technology to assess the 'emotional state' of its suppliers' farm animals

Waitrose has won a major award after rolling out a first-of-its-kind app that measures the emotional wellbeing of livestock.

The supermarket won the Best Retailer Innovation prize at this year’s Compassion in World Farming Awards for its work to develop the Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA) App.

Developed by Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), the app is specifically created for the purpose of measuring the emotional wellbeing of farmed animals.

The QBA app assesses the expressive body language of ‘how’ animals behave, for example enthusiastic, active or stressed.

The app is designed to continually improve their quality of life and has been rolled out across the Waitrose supply chain.

Once fully tested by Waitrose, the app - which also recently won a BBC Food & Farming Award for its innovative design - will be made accessible to other companies.

SRUC Professor Wemelsfelder, who developed the app, said: “This award is a fantastic recognition of Waitrose’s pioneering work in making farm animals’ emotional wellbeing a key aspect of managing animal welfare standards.

"It has been enjoyable, interesting and productive to collaborate with their supply chains in developing and testing the app, and see their high animal welfare standards at work."

The app is designed to help inspectors better understand emotionally expressive behaviour that - in part - contributes to an animal’s quality of life.

The technology enables Waitrose's field teams to record different qualities of livestock behaviour through the app, such as being relaxed, tense, playful or anxious.

Inspectors use the app to describe and quantify the different expressions they observe when looking at suppliers' farm animals.

Assessors then score these terms and integrate them into a larger pattern that aims to help Waitrose assess and improve their welfare strategy.