"The data shows that 10 local authority pension funds hold almost half of total investments in industrial livestock companies, worth £110.6 million ."
Local Authorities invest your tax money into pension funds on behalf of nearly 7 million people in the UK. But it’s not just financial security people need when they retire, they also need a world safe from climate change, deforestation, pandemics and animal cruelty.
Recently many local authorities have agreed to divest money in pension funds from fossil fuels, a well-known driver of climate change, but factory farming is also responsible for deforestation, human rights violations, pollution, pandemic risks and industrial-scale animal cruelty and until now these have been overlooked.
Feedback and World Animal Protection can reveal for the first time the stunning scale of UK local authority pension fund investments in factory farming. We are calling on local authorities to divest money in their pension funds from factory farming. These figures are based on Freedom of Information requests made to every local authority in the UK.
The data shows that 10 local authority pension funds hold almost half of total investments in industrial livestock companies, worth £110.6 million including West Midlands, Swansea, Strathclyde, Clwyd and South Yorkshire. Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Glasgow City Council and Swansea City Council, which all have their pensions held by these funds, have all declared a state of climate emergency. Read our full report here.
Local authority pension funds were also found to hold £54 million investments in large soya producer and trader ADM. Soy production in South America is a key driver of deforestation, and the single largest use for soy is in animal feed, particularly industrial-scale meat production.
Major industrial livestock companies like WH Group, based in China, and Tyson Foods, based in the USA, have been linked to a series of environmental, public health and animal welfare concerns. The five biggest meat and dairy companies worldwide have been shown to collectively emit more greenhouse gases than oil and gas giant ExxonMobil[i], and if current growth continue, the global meat and dairy industry will account for almost half the world’s carbon budget by 2030[ii].
What you can do about it
Find out how much your local authority invests in global industrial livestock companies by entering your postcode here and contact your local councillors demanding they divest from animal cruelty and climate destruction.
Key investment figures
In total, UK local authority pension funds hold £238 million of investments in Industrial livestock companies.
In addition to this, some pension funds have underreported or not reported any of their investments – assuming an average proportion of these pension funds is invested in industrial livestock (roughly 0.1%), we estimate that an additional £73 million is invested in industrial livestock, making a total of £311 million.
These investments are concentrated in 10 local authority pension funds, which hold industrial livestock investments worth £110.6 million – with the top investors being West Midlands (£35.9 million), Swansea (£12.4 million), Strathclyde (£10.3 million), Clwyd (£10.3 million) and South Yorkshire (£8.9 million).
An average of only 0.1% of the local authorities’ pension fund investments was in industrial livestock, making it easier for these pension funds to divest. The local authorities with the highest proportion of their investments in industrial livestock were Swansea (0.6%), the Royal Borough of Greenwich (0.6%), Clwyd (0.6%), West Midlands (0.4%) and Worcestershire (0.3%).
£230 million of these investments are in just 15 industrial livestock companies, accounting for 97% of the total investments. The largest investments are in China Mengnui Dairy (£40.3 million), Tyson Foods (£37.7 million), WH Group (£26.6 million) and Yili Group (£26.2 million). £7.5 million is invested in the world’s largest industrial livestock producer, JBS.
UK local authority pension funds also hold £54 million of investments in industrial soya company ADM (the only soya company to show up in our data screening). Soya is a high deforestation-risk commodity, 77% of which is used as animal feed . The biggest investors are Essex (£6.6 million), Strathclyde (£4.4 million) and West Midlands (£3.3 million).
[i]GRAIN and ITAP (2018) Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet. GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Available at: https://www.iatp.org/emissions-impossible (Accessed: 3 May 2021).