Following the legal recognition of decapod crustacean sentience in UK law in April 2022, it became evident that little was known about existing welfare standards in the food supply chain.  

To establish a much-needed baseline of information about current welfare policies and working practices, the first benchmark project of its kind was developed to assess a broad cross-section of UK seafood companies. Thirty businesses were chosen for assessment, including major retailers, processors, wholesalers and producers.

The aims of The Snapshot

  • To ensure that decapod crustacean welfare becomes an integral part of food companies’ procurement policies.
  • To define key expectations of food companies on decapod crustacean welfare. 
  • To drive transparency on the welfare of decapod crustaceans through regular reporting by seafood producers and retailers.  
  • To encourage company efforts to continuously improve decapod crustacean welfare while eliminating inhumane practices from the supply chain. 
  • To measure and report annually on key decapod welfare issues to equip consumers and other stakeholders with information allowing them to identify companies with the best practices aimed at improving decapod crustacean welfare. 

Company assessments

Conducted by independent consultants Chronos Sustainability, The Snapshot 2022: Industry Benchmark on Decapod Crustacean Welfare assessed the welfare positions of 30 companies, awarding points across four key pillars: 

  • Management Commitment & Policy 
  • Governance & Management 
  • Innovation & Leadership 
  • Performance Reporting & Impact 

After a review and company feedback period, the findings of The Snapshot were published in January 2023. For the first year only, company scores were anonymised to allow businesses more time to understand, formalise and publish their decapod welfare policies. In addition, unpublished evidence was taken into account for the first report, however only information in the public domain will be considered for The Snapshot 2023 report onwards. This is to encourage transparency and to ensure fair and consistent assessment for all companies.  

While we are at the start of the journey, the progress and innovation we have already seen within the sector is cause for much optimism. Together, we can help ensure that decapod crustacean welfare can be yet another animal welfare area led globally by UK business, resulting in benefits for companies, consumers and decapods alike.


First findings 

By objectively assessing leading seafood producers, processors and retailers on their management practices, The Snapshot captures the current state of decapod crustacean welfare across the industry. 

Findings from the inaugural benchmarking paint a mixed picture. While 50% of businesses have developed formal policies on decapod welfare, less than one in three of these have put measures in place to ensure that policies are effectively implemented. The overwhelming majority of these policies are also limited in scope, with only 7% developing a universal policy that applies to all geographies, species and products. 

A positive finding is that one in five (23%) companies are already involved in research and development projects aimed at improving decapod welfare. However, producers and processors only achieved an average score of 16% for innovation and leadership, with the retail sector scoring less with an average  13%. Reporting is generally low across the sector, with only 27% reporting on their performance.  

Although individual company scores range from 0% to 69%, the average overall score for all sectors across the benchmark assessment is just 20%. 

While it is encouraging to see that some companies are beginning to address decapod welfare in their supply chains, The Snapshot makes it clear that there is a significant task ahead to bring the industry up to acceptable standards of welfare. 

A pie chart showing that 9 companies (30%) recognise decapod crustacean welfare is a business issue, while 21 companies (70%) disagree.
Fig 1. Nine companies (30%) recognise decapod crustacean welfare as a business issue, while 21 companies (70%) do not.
A pie chart showing that 50% of companies have no policy on decapod crustacean welfare, 43% have a partial policy, and 7% have a universal policy that applies to all species and locales.
Fig 2. Scope of decapod welfare policies shows that only 7% of companies have a universal policy that applies to all species and locales, while 43% have a partial policy and 50% have no policy at all.
What’s next for The Snapshot? 

Company assessments for The Snapshot 2023 will take place this summer and the public report will be released in early 2024.  

Commissioned by Crustacean Compassion, The Snapshot benchmark not only aims to equip consumers and other stakeholders with the information they need to make informed choices but also to help food companies understand and adapt to decapod welfare expectations. Through annual reporting on the UK food industry’s management and working practices, The Snapshot will highlight policy shortfalls while continually helping to drive transparency and celebrate positive change across the sector. 

Details of all 22 assessment criteria and the scoring methodology can be found in The Snapshot 2022 report. In addition, companies of any size and sector can find information and resources on this hub to assist in evaluating their own decapod welfare policies, identifying areas for improvement and communicating progress to their key stakeholders.