Morrisons has questioned the methodology of a major review into farm animal we­lfare practices, which claims the retailer does not consider welfare to be integral to its business.

The retailer was ranked in the fourth of six tiers in the annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare audit, which was published this week and provides a review of how 90 of the world’s leading food companies manage and report on farm animal welfare practices.

Fourth-tier companies were described by BBFAW as making progress on implementing welfare programmes, but these were not integral to business strategy. Last year, Morrisons was ranked in the third tier.

The retailer questioned the accuracy of the study, with a spokesman claiming its lowly ranking reflected “the fact we have less publicly available information on our work and our position on key issues” than other organisations.

“We take animal welfare very seriously and are continually challenging suppliers to raise standards further.”

Nicky Amos, executive director of BBFAW, said having publicly available information was key to ensure transparency on welfare measures.

“The design of the Benchmark and the benchmarking process - the emphasis on published information, the emphasis on objective criteria, the transparency around the assessment and evaluation processes, the annual rankings and reports - reflect the reality that corporate reporting on farm animal welfare is systematically poor and limited.”