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Down, the heart of every single jacket, is the most important thing 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 technical DIST Protocol (Down Integrity System and Traceability). First implemented in 2015, it regulates farming standards, respect for animal welfare, and down traceability 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 exclusively sourced from white geese raised 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. It provides 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, 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 2020, the sixth 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-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).
All down suppliers must scrupulously comply with Protocol requirements to ensure raw material traceability, animal welfare, and the highest quality standards at each link of the down supply chain. Compliance with the principles set out in the Protocol is constantly assessed by Moncler through stringent audits in the field throughout its almost entirely vertically-integrated down supply chain. It includes various types of entities: white geese farms, abattoirs where the animals are exclusively slaughtered for meat production before the down is collected, and companies responsible for washing, cleaning, sorting, and processing the raw material. It also comprises sub-contractors 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 2019, 215 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. Only one farm did not achieve certification as it did not implement the improvement plan within the set times. During the audits carried out in 2019, no instances of live-plucking or force-feeding were observed at any of the audited farms.
To transparently communicate the company’s commitment in this area, a tag indicating ‘down certified under DIST’ has been included in all Moncler’s jackets. This milestone was achieved by extending down traceability as per DIST Protocol across the entire supply chain, all the way to the finished product.
With the aim of promoting a path of continuous improvement and thus having a significant impact on animal welfare, Moncler is committed to involving and raising the awareness of its supply chain through training activities. During 2019, training activities continued for outerwear and knitwear façon manufacturers in compliance with the traceability procedure. In 2019, about 23 on-site training courses were provided for a total of around 100 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 through the multi-stakeholder forum. However, significant these results may be, 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.
5The 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.
6Feather-pecking is an abnormal behaviour in avian species that occurs when one bird repeatedly pecks (sometimes tearing out) the feathers of another.