In 2020, 6.4 billion chickens were raised for meat in the UK and Europe, yet only 8% of these were reared in higher welfare systems.
In September 2017, Compassion joined forces with a group of European NGOs asking the food industry to commit to new welfare standards for broiler chickens.
The Better Chicken Commitment (BCC)– also referred to as the European Chicken Commitment (ECC) - commits its signatories to introduce higher welfare standards for chickens in their supply by 2026.Read more about the Better Chicken Commitment.
It aims to drive compliance and encourage transparency by sharing best practice from the companies who are demonstratively leading the way. It also provides a platform to support and encourage companies so that a successful transition to higher welfare chicken is achieved across all sectors.
All information in ChickenTrack is based on companies’ publicly disclosed information (e.g. on a company’s website or in another relevant document including, but not limited to, an animal welfare policy, an ESG/CSR or progress report, or a press release).
By setting clear targets and demonstrating progress against those targets through regular public reporting, companies can demonstrate their ownership and drive in continually pushing for better chicken welfare.
In April 2023, Compassion launched its first annual European ChickenTrack , measuring the progress of 73 commitments made by 60 companies, based on their geographical relevance and size. (Note: some companies have made several individual commitments across multiple markets in Europe).
The data analysed is derived from companies’ publicly disclosed information and the report provides a baseline for tracking year-on-year company progress.
The 2022 Report highlights progress for 31 (42%) of the commitments with 12 commitments reporting 100% compliance with at least one of the BCC criteria.However, more than half of commitments (42) across 37 companies (58%) do not have any progress reported against them.
Only Norwegian producer Norsk Kylling is 100% compliant with the BCC across its entire chicken production and just four company commitments (5%) report progress against full BCC compliance – REMA 1000 at 96%, Eroski at 39%, Elior at 22% and IKEA at 3%.
The report shows that France has the most companies reporting (11), followed by the UK (8).
ChickenTrack details improvements across the six specific criteria of the Better Chicken Commitment:
stocking density (the most reported criteria for 25 commitments), average transition 30%
breed change (reported for 21 commitments), average transition 21%
natural light provision (reported for 23 commitments), average transition 43%
enrichment provision (reported for 24 commitments), average transition 47%
controlled atmospheric stunning (CAS) (reported for 19 commitments), average transition 54%
auditing to BCC compliance – reported by one company only, M&S
Of the 27 commitments:
12 are from retailers or meal kit providers (transition ranges from average 37% for breed to 76% for CAS), including:
M&S which is 100% compliant on all their fresh chicken (31% of all chicken they sell) and the remainder is 100% compliant on natural light, enrichment and CAS slaughter.
Waitrose & Partners is 100% compliant on natural light, enrichment, CAS slaughter and stocking density, but not breed change.
9 are from restaurants (transition ranges from average 9% for breed to 51% for enrichment), including:
Greggs which is 53% compliant for stocking density and 64% compliant for enrichment.
Papa Johns which is 60% compliant for stocking density, 50% compliant for natural light and 56% compliant for enrichment.
2 are from food service and hospitality organisations, including:
Compass Group which is 44% compliant on natural light and enrichment.
Sodexo which is 9% compliant on stocking density.
4 are from manufacturers (transition ranges from average 7% for breed to 43% for CAS), including Danone which is 70% compliant for stocking density, natural light and enrichment, 60% compliant for CAS systems and 20% compliant on breed change.
Of the six producers (2 Sisters Food Group, Fileni, Galliance, Plukon Food Group, PD Hook (Hatcheries) Ltd and LDC) with pledges to supply BCC-standard chicken, only 2 Sisters Food Group is reporting on its BCC-compliant chicken offer.
Note: Aldi Belgium has been incorrectly represented in the 2022 report as having 40% progress towards reaching a maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2. This error will be rectified in the next iteration of ChickenTrack.
Key Steps for Better Broiler Welfare
To help drive the market forwards for the improved welfare of all chickens reared for meat, companies should:
Publicly sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment - especially retailers as they have huge market influence and can tip the scales towards making higher welfare chicken the baseline standard.
Develop a strong roadmap to phase-in the higher welfare criteria and report year-on-year progress against targets, which will be measured in our annual ChickenTrack report.
Work with suppliers and pace transition, capitalising on any business-to-business linkages where costs for higher welfare chicken can be shared.
Support producers by offering long-term contracts for stability and to encourage investment in higher welfare production.
Consider dedicated supply/flocks to have greater control/influence over the higher welfare standards adopted.
Apply cost mitigation strategies such as whole carcass utilisation and waste reduction strategies to enable the transition.
Bring consumers on the journey with you through creative marketing and empower them to easily choose higher welfare products by adopting appropriate labelling to help differentiate your higher welfare products.
Working with Compassion
Having public-facing commitments to change are important first steps for any company and we encourage those yet to join the Better Chicken Commitment to sign-up now.
However, mapping out a route to implement thecriteria and importantly acting on it, is vital if we are to make higher welfare chicken the baseline standard. It will require working with all stakeholders (both internal and external) involved in the supply chain.
Compassion works with companies from sign-up to having BCC-compliant product on shelf. If you need help or want to join our broiler forums and working groups, please get in touch.
This year's report is the largest since its inception, with 41 companies reporting progress toward the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) – more than triple the number of companies since last year’s report. This equates to nearly 20% of the companies committed to the BCC are reporting progress.
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