While some food companies have made significant progress towards meeting the higher welfare requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), many still have a long way to go, according to the first annual European ChickenTrack report launched today (26th April) by Compassion in World Farming.
The new report, which measures the progress of more than 60 European and UK companies towards meeting their Better Chicken Commitments (BCC), provides a baseline for tracking year-on-year industry progress.
The BCC is a pledge made by companies to give chickens raised for meat better lives through a range of welfare improvements. These include giving them more space to live, enrichment and natural light, as well as using slower growing breeds which is fundamental to their welfare.
This first ChickenTrack report covers 73* commitments made by 60 companies covering the following sectors: Retail, Meal Kit/Meat Box, Manufacturer, Food Service & Hospitality, and Restaurant.
Over 350 companies in Europe and the UK have signed up to the BCC to date, including retailers M&S and Waitrose, as well as restaurants such as Greggs and Papa Johns and food service and hospitality businesses like Compass Group and Sodexo.
The report found that 31 commitments from 27 companies (42%) have made progress** towards meeting the higher welfare standards of the Better Chicken Commitment, with 12 commitments (16%) fully complying with at least one of the criteria. However, more than half of the commitments (42) from 37 companies (58%) are not reporting any progress at all.***
There were 6.4 billion broilers reared in the UK and Europe in 2020. Only 8% were raised in premium concept systems (including BCC-compliant standards). The UK is one of the top five producing countries, along with Poland, Spain, France and Italy, supplying 4.3 billion chickens. Three of the top ten European broiler producers are based in the UK.
Only Norwegian producer Norsk Kylling is 100% compliant 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%.
Compassion in World Farming highlights that despite challenges such as the impact of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and the prevalence of highly pathogenic avian influenza, it is encouraging that some progress is being reported. However, the animal welfare and environmental charity says it is crucial for companies to keep working on their implementation to ensure a smooth transition by the 2026 BCC commitment deadline.
Dr Tracey Jones, Global Director for Food Business at Compassion, said: "Higher welfare chicken should be a priority for all food companies. Chickens are sentient beings and deserve a good quality of life as well as a humane end. By using more robust breeds and providing them with better living conditions they can live longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives. It is possible and it is what consumers expect.
“When decisive commitments are taken with collective effort, alongside responsible investment, determined implementation and proactive marketing, these higher welfare standards are not only commercially viable but transformational for the whole sector.”
Vivienne Harris, Agriculture Manager, M&S said: "At M&S, we are absolutely committed to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) and are delighted to be on this journey – the first UK retailer to sell only 100% BCC-compliant fresh chicken under our Oakham Gold brand. We want to keep raising the bar to improve chicken welfare, and our slower-growing birds are now more active and resilient. Since the introduction of Oakham Gold, we have received lots of positive feedback from our customers.”
The UK has the greatest number of sign-ups to the BCC across Europe with 120 commitments. However, more UK retailer commitments are essential to build supply at pace and scale and galvanise the market transition. Compassion urges consumers to support those companies that have signed up and to demand higher welfare chicken from those that have not yet made the pledge to make higher welfare chicken the industry norm.
Read the full European ChickenTrack report.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1483 521 615.
Notes to editors
- In September 2017, Compassion joined forces with a group of European NGOs calling on companies to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment – also known as the European Chicken Commitment (ECC). The goal is to make significant improvements in the rearing and slaughter of broiler chickens by 2026.
- *Some companies have made individual commitments across multiple markets so the report tracks 73 commitments from 60 companies, which were selected based on their geographic relevance and size
- **Thirty one commitments across 27 companies reporting progress - Aldi Nord (Belgium and Germany), Aldi Sud (Germany), Auchan (France), Carrefour (France), Compass Group (UK), Danone (Europe), E.Leclerc (France), Elior, Eroski, Fleury Michon (France), Greggs (UK), Groupe Casino (France), Hello Fresh (Europe), IKEA, KFC (France, Germany, [Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium], UK & Ireland), Lidl (France), M&S (UK), Nando’s (UK), Papa Johns (UK), REMA 1000, Sodebo (France), Sodexo (France), Subway (Europe), Systeme U (France), The Big Table (UK), Unilever (Europe), Waitrose (UK).
- ***More than half of commitments (42) across 37 companies (58%) are not reporting - Accor, ALDI NORD (Denmark, France, Spain), API Restauration, Aramark, Auchan (Poland and Spain), Azzuri Group, Bertrand Restauration, Best Western, bofrost*, Bordeau Chesnel, Burger King UK, Carrefour (Italy, Poland and Spain), CH&Co Catering, Chipotle, Colruyt, Cooperl, Delhaize Le Lion, Domino’s Pizza Enterprise, Eataly, GLH Hotels, Gousto, Groupe Holder, Groupe Le Duff, Herta, Kraft Heinz, Les Mousquetaires, Lidl (Belgium), Nestlé, Picard, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger, Prezzo, SSP Group, Taco Bell, The Restaurant Group, Yo! Sushi
NB: 4 companies (Lidl, Carrefour, Auchan and Aldi Nord) appear in both ‘reporting progress’ and ‘not reporting progress’ with different territories, which is why the company numbers add up to 64 when the correct number is 60.