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More European food companies share progress towards adopting higher welfare chicken

News Section Icon Published 3/19/2024

Broiler Head Shot ©Shutterstock 739895602

Today, 20th March, we released the second European ChickenTrack report, which measures food companies’ progress towards meeting the higher welfare requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).

It reveals that some food businesses have reported significant improvements, but many are stalling or failing to publicly share their progress reporting.

ChickenTrack drives progress for higher welfare chicken

Our European ChickenTrack report helps drive significant welfare improvements for the billions of chickens reared each year across Europe by holding companies accountable for their Better Chicken Commitments.

To date, over 380 companies have signed up to the BCC in Europe, committing to offer their customers only higher welfare products from healthier, happier chickens. This includes retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, food service and hospitality businesses.

ChickenTrack 2023 reports on the progress of 85 companies across eight European countries, all assessed on their progress towards implementing the full package of science-based criteria needed to significantly improve the lives of broiler chickens. These include giving the chickens more space to live, enrichment and natural light, undertaking more humane slaughter methods, and most importantly, using slower growing breeds which is vital for their welfare.

Increase in companies sharing progress, but some neglecting to report

The number of companies reporting on their progress has increased from 39% in 2022 (including producers) to 65% in 2023. However, the majority are falling behind on two key areas: moving to slower growing breeds and reducing stocking density, both of which are pivotal to delivering the full welfare benefits for chickens reared for meat.

Of the total 85 companies, 55 are reporting on their transition progress, 21 for the first time in 2023. Yet 30 companies are yet to start reporting. Of all the companies included in ChickenTrack, the highest proportion committed to the BCC is in France, followed by the United Kingdom.

Norwegian producer Norsk Kylling is the only company to have achieved 100% compliance with the BCC criteria across all of its chicken, while six companies report 100% compliance against at least one criterion.

ChickenTrack motivates companies to raise the bar for chicken welfare

Globally, an estimated 70 billion chickens are slaughtered annually for meat, with over two-thirds being fast-growing breeds raised in barren, overcrowded sheds, and this number is continuing to rise. Breeding for fast growth to increase production brings with it numerous health risks for chickens, such as heart defects, organ failure, compromised immune systems and musculoskeletal problems. This further exacerbates the suffering experienced where chickens are unable to exhibit natural behaviours such as perching, pecking, foraging, scratching and playing, resulting in a poor quality of life from start to finish.

Through ChickenTrack, we motivate food companies to uphold their higher welfare commitments, fostering transparency and accountability through annual progress reporting, all aimed at driving the shift towards making higher welfare chicken the industry norm.

Dr Tracey Jones, Global Director for Food Business at Compassion says: “It is encouraging to see an increase in companies working to deliver on their commitments and reporting on their transition progress. Company sign-ups to the BCC are an essential first step to improving the lives of millions of chickens raised for meat. However, only when the full package of changes is made will chickens start to feel the benefits and the company can say its products are higher welfare.

“It is undoubtedly a challenging time for everyone, particularly with the cost-of-living crisis, but we need to keep pressing on. There is clearly much to be done and key sectors still need to get on board, not least the UK retail industry. Higher welfare should be the minimum baseline standard – in good times and in bad, and as progress is made, and we see bigger changes, millions more broiler chickens will start to lead healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives.”

Find out more about ChickenTrack.


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