June 4, 2020


UK welfare poultry supply grows at 5%



Chickens that meet the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) criteria in UK supermarkets are rising to 5% with roughly 30 million birds per year, according to the science-based chicken welfare policy, Food Ingredients First reported.


BCC is a set of criteria for improving the lives of broiler chickens, specifically raised for meat. "By prohibiting the use of fast-growing breeds, allowing more space and better living conditions, the BCC eliminates some of the very worst problems inherent in the factory farming of chicken," the organisation underscores.


"The BCC represents a viable and meaningful higher welfare alternative to standard intensive factory farming of chickens. 'Conventional' chickens are bred to put on so much weight so quickly that their bodies can't cope and they suffer from disease and welfare issues. They live a life of constant misery and pain," details Vicky Bond, Managing Director at The Humane League UK.


The BCC standards were agreed by a group of leading animal protection organisations including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and The Humane League UK in 2018.


Chicken that meet the BCC criteria is now on the shelves of a range of supermarkets including Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Aldi.


Chicken that meet the BCC criteria is now on the shelves of a range of supermarkets including Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Aldi. Both Waitrose and M&S are committed to meeting the BCC on all of their own-brand chicken by 2026. However, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons are still yet to fully commit.


"It's essential for retailers to move with the times and accept that we are moving beyond conventional intensively reared chicken," stresses Bond.


Around one billion broiler chickens are raised for meat every year in the UK, according to BCC statistics. Most of them are intensively reared, with free-range only accounting for around 3.5% of production.


The 5% estimate is based on 2 Sisters Food Group that is producing at least 13 million BCC-compliant birds a year. Tesco is reported to be producing 10.4 million BCC birds by this summer and another seven million are estimated to be in production from other retailers carrying out trials.


Over 100 companies in the UK and the EU have committed to the BCC, including KFC, Pret a Manger and Nestlé, BCC reports.


In a recent Rabobank analysis, the outlook for global poultry in 2020 will be materially affected by the current coronavirus pandemic. Even during the economic slowdown, poultry demand may yet stand to benefit among other animal-based proteins due to its price competitiveness.