Lidl France has introduced a range of chicken that is in line with the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) on-farm requirements. Labelled ‘Level C’ under the AEBEA (Association Étiquette Bien-Être Animal) animal welfare labelling scheme, consumers will be able to better understand how the chickens were reared and make more informed choices.
In 2020, Lidl France joined the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), pledging to introduce the higher welfare requirements for chickens in its supply by 2026. To date, Lidl has only made this commitment in France and Belgium.
In response to consumer demand for transparency, the retailer also joined the French animal welfare labelling scheme AEBEA which aims to provide clear information on the method of production and the associated animal welfare standards.
On 13 July 2023, Lidl France introduced its first complete range of chicken which is labelled ‘Level C’ in the AEBEA scheme, denoted as ‘higher welfare indoor’ production. It is the first level in the scheme to guarantee a significant improvement in animal welfare. The range includes fillets, thighs, drumsticks and whole chickens.
The AEBEA labelling scheme evaluates each phase of a broiler chicken's life and is based on 230 animal welfare indicators. The labelling ranges from A to E as follows:
- The top level ‘A’ ensures slower growing breeds are used and stocked at a maximum of 25kg/m2, with outdoor access, provision of enrichments, minimum age at slaughter of 81 days, maximum transport duration of 4 hours and video monitoring at slaughter.
- Level ‘B’ ensures slower growing breeds are used and stocked at a maximum of 27.5kg/m2, allows outdoor access, provision of enrichments, minimum age at slaughter of 56 days, maximum transport duration of 6 hours and video monitoring at slaughter.
- Level ‘C’ is in line with the on-farm Better Chicken Commitment criteria, including using slower growing breeds with proven welfare outcomes, a stocking density of 30kg/m2, provision of enrichments and natural light.
- Level ‘D’ means fast-growing breeds are used, stocked at 38kg/m2, with a commitment to provide natural light by 2024.
- Level ‘E’ is ‘minimal welfare’ where the chickens are fast-growing breeds raised in a shed with a very high stocking density of 42kg/m2.
Today, the ‘Level C’ range is available in almost 500 of Lidl’s supermarkets in the Paris region, as well as some areas in the South of France (approx. one third of its stores nationwide). The retailer has also offered Label Rouge chicken, labelled ‘Level A’, since 2021.
BCC-Compliant Chicken in the UK
Consumers seeking chicken reared to the BCC standards in the UK can visit M&S where 100% of its fresh whole and portion chicken (under the Oakham GoldTM label with RSPCA Assured certification) is compliant with the BCC criteria.
Other UK supermarkets offer a range of BCC-compliant chicken, such as Tesco’s ‘Room to Roam’ or Morrison’s ‘Space to Roam’, but these typically only make up a very small proportion of the supermarkets’ full chicken offer.
Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion, commented: “We are pleased that Lidl France is selling a range of chicken that is in line with the BCC on-farm requirements and we welcome the transparency of the labelling it has adopted. We urge Lidl to go further and expand their commitment beyond France and Belgium to other countries, particularly the UK.
“In the UK, only two out of the top ten supermarkets – M&S and Waitrose – have signed up to the BCC. M&S has made remarkable progress with 100% of its fresh chicken supply now meeting the BCC criteria, and we ask other retailers to follow suit.
“The influence supermarkets have over the welfare standards adopted in their supply chains and their ability to shift the economies of scale and enable market access for others is enormous. I urge them to do the right thing for chickens and for their customers - sign up to the BCC now and make higher welfare chicken their baseline offer.”