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First European ChickenTrack progress report launched

News Section Icon Published 26/04/2023

74156 © Istockphoto
© iStockphoto

Our first ever European ChickenTrack report released today (26th April) shows that while some companies have made significant progress towards meeting the higher welfare requirements of Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), many still have a long way to go.

Measuring annual progress

The new annual report measures the progress of more than 60 European and UK companies, towards meeting their BCC, and will continue to track their progress each year.

The BCC is a pledge made by companies to give chickens raised for meat better lives by improving their welfare, including giving them more space to live, enrichment and natural light, and by using slower growing breeds.

This report covers 73 commitments made by 60 companies in 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.

More must be done

Across Europe, the report found that 31 commitments from 27 companies (42%) have made progress towards meeting the higher welfare standards of the BCC. However, more than half of the commitments (42) from 37 companies (58%) are not reporting any progress at all.

In 2020, there were 6.4 billion broiler chickens reared in the UK and Europe. Sadly, only 8% were raised in systems with the highest welfare 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.

Of all the companies tracked, only Norwegian producer Norsk Kylling was found to be 100% compliant of the BCC across its entire chicken production.

While it is encouraging to see some progress from companies being made despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and the bird flu crisis, it is crucial that companies do more to improve the welfare of their chickens to meet the BBC’s 2026 deadline.

Raising the bar to improve chicken welfare

Dr Tracey Jones, our Global Director for Food Business, 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. We urge 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 more about our Food Business work.


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