What businesses have pledged to improve broiler welfare?
Broiler welfare is moving up the agenda as consumer pressure, market forces and the work of NGO’s like Compassion raise awareness and facilitate change.
To date over 100 US companies (including Subway, Burger King and Kraft Heinz) have made commitments to improve the lives of meat chickens by 2024.
In Europe, M&S, Unilever, Nestlé, Danone and contract caterer, Elior Group have all signed up to the European Chicken Commitment, promising to achieve their aims by 2026.
We are calling on all food businesses to work together to give chickens a better life, with:
- Better genetics for improved quality of life
- More space to live
- Natural light, perches and pecking substrates to stimulate behaviour
- Humane slaughter
- Compliance with a meaningful third party animal welfare certification and annual reporting
Planning for change
While higher welfare commitments are commended, they are just the first step. Much work now is needed to understand the supply chain and to plan out a roadmap for improvement, bringing producers and consumers on the journey with you.
We need a groundswell of cross industry collaboration and support for the new welfare standards, in order to find supply chain solutions to make higher welfare chicken the new baseline. By working together and exploring business to business connections, by reducing waste and capitalising on full carcass utilization, higher welfare chicken can become a reality.
Developing sustainable production systems that are fit for purpose (providing the birds with a good quality of life) and fit for the future requires time and effort and Compassion will continue to work with industry to help facilitate this change.
What are the retailers are doing?
M&S is the first UK retailer to sign up to the European Chicken Commitment for improved broiler welfare.
The retailer received a Good Chicken Award in 2010 for committing to rear chickens in their fresh meat supply to lower stocking densities and with the provision of natural light and enrichments.
M&S has now committed to providing all its chickens with more space to live (by moving to 30kg/m2 stocking density), to farming an approved slower growing breed of bird with better welfare outcomes, and enhancing some of the enrichment provisions. That means higher welfare chicken across 100% of their fresh and ingredient chicken by 2026.
Find out more about what the other retailers are doing for broiler welfare here.
Retailers are key
Supermarket retailers use the highest volumes of chicken and their influence over the welfare standards adopted by food producers is enormous due to their buying power and ability to promote one product over another.
M&S is leading the way for broilers and we urge all retailers to follow their example and get on board with the European Chicken Commitment to raise the baseline standard for chicken.
Only by working together with cross industry collaboration can we develop sustainable solutions and shift the market to make higher welfare chicken a commercial reality.
Compassion has aligned its awards programme to meet the developing demands of the market. The Good Chicken Award has therefore been adapted in line with the criteria for the Better Chicken Commitment. Find out more here.
Read more here about the welfare issues associated with commercial broiler production and why we are calling for change.