‘Fundamental shift’ needed to hit chicken commitment

Compassion in World Farming has provided an update on progress against the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) which has seen over 270 food companies commit to higher production standards for the meat chickens in their supply chains.

It found that although a growing number of commitments across different food sectors was a “positive” step towards making higher welfare chicken the norm, a “fundamental shift” is still needed within the industry to build supply of higher welfare chicken ahead of the 2026 deadline.

Developed in 2017, the BCC is supported by more than 30 NGOs in Europe and commits signatories to introduce higher welfare standards for chickens in their supply by 2026.

In Europe, over 270 companies across different sectors have signed up, including foodservice operators like KFC, Subway, Elior Group, Sodexo, and Compass Group.

Published this week, the preliminary European ChickenTrack 2021 report lays out a reporting framework for businesses to adopt ahead of the 2022 European ChickenTrack report. It includes a requirement for businesses to publicly disclose the proportion of chicken within their supply chains that currently meets BCC criteria. The aim is to drive compliance and encourage transparency by sharing best practice from the companies who are leading the way on meeting BCC requirements.

The first edition of ChickenTrack highlights examples of best practice reporting from companies like KFC, M&S and French supermarket chain Casino. It also explains how Compassion will begin to track and report on company progress annually starting from 2022.

The BCC commits signatories to improve the breeding, living conditions and slaughter practices for the meat chickens in their supply chains. Measures include using slower-growing breeds that have better welfare outcomes and providing the birds with more space to live and enriching their environment via access to perches, pecking substrates (such as straw bales or scattered grain) and natural light. Signatories must also use more humane slaughter methods and submit to third-party audits.

“Companies signing up to the BCC are taking a major step towards raising baseline standards for broiler chickens, and we urge every food business to take that pledge,” said Dr Tracey Jones, global director of food business at Compassion in World Farming. “But a commitment alone is not enough; it is essential that companies move forward on their implementation plans and report year-on-year progress. ChickenTrack will help monitor that progress annually and will provide recommendations and advice, while recognising those companies that are leading the way.”

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