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As part of its commitment to ensuring animal welfare, Moncler demands and verifies that all its down suppliers comply with the strict requirements of the DIST Protocol (Down Integrity System & Traceability), first implemented in 2015, regulating farming standards, respect for the animal, down traceability, and down technical quality. Moncler only purchases down that is DIST-certified.
Among the key 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.
Moncler’s down supply chain is almost entirely vertically-integrated and includes various entities: white geese farms, abattoirs 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 façon manufacturers, who produce the finished products downstream of the down purchasing process. All down suppliers must scrupulously comply with Protocol requirements to ensure raw material traceability, animal welfare, and the highest quality standards throughout the down 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. It provides a scientific approach to animal welfare and product traceability.
The forum is chaired by a Professor of Management at Ca’ Foscari University, in Venice (Italy), who is an expert on sustainability issues. Its members include: Moncler officers; experts from the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan (Italy), from the Polish National Institute of Animal Husbandry (Koluda Wielka), and from 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 November 2017, the fourth multi-stakeholder forum was held to discuss Protocol updates to make it even more stringent; the new Protocol release will be approved at the beginning of 2018.
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.), it also provides for the careful observation of the animal itself (as per recent European Commission guidelines), through the so-called Animal-Based Measures1 (ABMs), which 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-pecking6, 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).
Moncler believes that, in order to have a significant impact on animal welfare and enable continuous improvement, it is important not to impose but rather explain, share, and involve its suppliers, so as to ensure a long-term joint commitment. Throughout 2017, the Company shared information material with them to support the dissemination of good farming practices across their respective supply chains. Efforts to raise awareness will continue in 2018, with the distribution of information material to slaughterhouses.
Moncler is continuously committed to verifying Protocol compliance in the field. To ensure the utmost impartiality:
• audits are commissioned 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 (Italy);
• audit results are, in turn, verified by a second accredited external body.
An important change in 2017 was the inclusion of a tag indicating ‘Down certified under DIST’ in all Moncler jackets, starting with the Fall-Winter 2017 collections. This milestone was achieved by extending down traceability as per DIST Protocol across the entire supply chain, all the way down to the finished product, and by performing extensive audits on façon manufacturers of jackets.
In 2017, 85 independent audits were conducted, some of which were attended by both Moncler officers and experts from the University of Milan’s Department of Veterinary Medicine. Although the audits involved the suppliers’ best farms, some of them were required to take corrective measures before obtaining certification. No instances of live-plucking or force- feeding were observed at any of the farms audited.
In addition to these audits to verify compliance with the DIST Protocol, other checks were carried out focusing on human and workers’ rights. Some instances required the definition of specific improvement plans, the implementation of which will be verified via follow-up audits.
Moncler is aware that these results, however significant, are not a finish line but rather a new starting point, and that its duty is to continue to promote increasingly ambitious standards, also based on the insights of its stakeholders.
1The 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 speci c farming environments. These measures include physiological, pathological, and behavioural indicators.
2Feather-pecking is an abnormal behaviour in avian species that occurs when one bird repeatedly pecks (sometimes tearing out) the feathers of another.