Down, the heart of every single jacket, is a raw material of strategic importance to Moncler. Suppliers are not only required to meet the highest quality standards, but also to act responsibly and respect animal welfare.
In order to ensure animal welfare, Moncler demands and verifies that all its down suppliers comply with the strict requirements of Moncler’s DIST Technical Protocol (Down Integrity System and Traceability). First implemented in 2015, it regulates farming standards, respect for animal welfare, down traceability and technical quality. Moncler only purchases down that is DIST-certified.
Among the core principles of the Protocol that must be respected across the entire supply chain:
• down must be derived exclusively from farmed geese and as a by-product of the food chain;
• no form of live-plucking or force-feeding of animals is permitted.
Developed based on the unique features of Moncler’s supply chain, the Protocol was the result of an open and constructive dialogue within the scope of a multi-stakeholder forum (established in 2014), taking into account the expectations of the various stakeholders involved and providing a scientific and holistic approach to animal welfare and product traceability. The forum is chaired by a Professor of Management at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, who is an expert on sustainability issues. Its members include: Moncler officers; experts from the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan, the Polish National Institute of Animal Husbandry in Kołuda Wielka, and Compassion in World Farming, an NGO dedicated to the welfare of farm animals; and representatives from certification and consulting firms (Bureau Veritas, Control Union, IDFL and KPMG). In the firm belief that dialogue enhances and drives improvement, in January 2019, the fifth multi-stakeholder forum was held to discuss Protocol updates to make it even more stringent.
The DIST Protocol assesses animal welfare using an innovative approach. In fact, alongside the traditional approach that focuses on the animal’s environment (in terms of availability of food and water, space to pasture, etc.), the Protocol also provides for the careful observation of the animal itself (as per recent European Commission guidelines), through the so-called Animal-Based Measures (ABMs)(5). The ABMs enable the direct assessment of the animals’ conditions by observing how the geese respond to various factors within their environment (outcome approach). The DIST Protocol features nine ABMs (welfare indicators) including, among others, those designed to identify unusual behaviour or aspects such as feather-pecking(6), twisted or broken wings, feather irregularities, and abnormal beak colour. These phenomena occur when the welfare of the geese is compromised owing to a number of reasons, including high stocking density, poor diet, lack of pasture, and inappropriate animal management methods. Another important and innovative indicator introduced by the Protocol regards the human-animal interaction, which is assessed according to the responses to a specific test (the HAR test, Estep and Hetts, 1992).
All down suppliers must scrupulously comply with Protocol requirements to ensure raw material traceability, animal welfare, and the highest quality standards at each phase of the down supply chain. Compliance with the principles set out in the Protocol is constantly assessed by Moncler through stringent audits on the field throughout its highly vertically-integrated down supply chain. The supply chain includes various types of entities: white geese farms, slaughterhouses where the animals are slaughtered for meat production before the down is collected, and companies responsible for washing, cleaning, sorting, and processing the raw material. It also comprises subcontractors who produce the finished products downstream of the down purchasing process.
To ensure the utmost impartiality:
• audits are commissioned and paid directly by Moncler and not by the supplier;
• the certification process is carried out by a qualified independent body, whose auditors are trained by veterinaries and zootechnicians of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan;
• in turn the certification body’s work is audited by another accredited external body.
In 2018, 176 independent audits were conducted, some of which were attended by Moncler officers as well as experts from the University of Milan’s Department of Veterinary Medicine. In all cases where minor non-conformities were found during audit activities, farms had to take prompt corrective action before obtaining certification. During the audits carried out in 2018, no instances of live-plucking or force-feeding were observed at any of the audited farms.
Starting with the Autumn-Winter 2017 collections. a tag indicating ‘Down certified under DIST’ has been included in all Moncler jackets, as a way of providing transparent information on Moncler’s commitment in this area. This milestone was achieved by extending down traceability as per DIST, all the way down to the finished product.
With the aim of promoting a path of continuous improvement and thus have a significant impact on animal welfare, Moncler is committed to involving its supply chain, and raising the awareness through training activities. Throughout 2018, the Company shared information material with its partners to support the dissemination of good practices among the slaughterhouses. Training activities for façon manufacturers on compliance with the traceability procedure were also intensified. In 2018, about 35 on-site training courses were provided for a total of about 150 hours.
The DIST Protocol is a stringent and innovative document and the goal is to keep it so. That is why it is constantly evolving and subject to periodic review within the multi-stakeholder forum. However significant results have been achieved, Moncler has no intention of stopping there and is determined to continue to promote increasingly ambitious standards, also based on the insights of its stakeholders.
5 The Animal-Based Measures are indicators that rely on the direct observation of the animal to assess its actual conditions in relation to its ability to adapt to specific farming environments. These measures include physiological, pathological, and behavioural indicators.
6 Feather-pecking is an abnormal behaviour in avian species that occurs when one bird repeatedly pecks (sometimes tearing out) the feathers of another.