Second European ChickenTrack report shows food companies making strides to improve chicken welfare, but more must be done

Over one-third of companies analysed failing to report any progress on meeting Better Chicken Commitment

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Compassion in World Farming has today (20th March 2024) released its second European ChickenTrack, measuring food companies’ progress towards meeting the higher welfare requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC). While some food companies have reported significant improvements on meeting the criteria, many are stalling or failing to publicly share their progress reporting.

was launched in 2021 to help drive compliance, encourage transparency and support the successful transition to higher welfare chicken by holding companies accountable for their BCC 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 humane slaughter methods, and most importantly, using slower growing breeds which is vital for their welfare.

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, including Burger King (France), Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (Europe) and Carrefour in Poland, Italy and Spain. 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 (a total of 28, of which 20 are reporting on their progress) and significantly all the major retailers in France have signed up to the BCC. The United Kingdom comes second with 18 companies committed, of which 10 are reporting on transition progress, including TGI Fridays (UK) and Premier Foods PLC, both of which are reporting for the first time.

Producer Norsk Kylling is the only company to have achieved 100% compliance in all of the BCC criteria, while six companies report 100% compliance against at least one criterion:

  • Danone Group – natural light
  • Marks & Spencer – natural light, enrichment and CAS slaughter (as well as 100% BCC compliance on fresh chicken)
  • Monoprix – breed
  • Nando’s – natural light and enrichment
  • Schiever Distribution (France) – stocking density, breed and natural light
  • Waitrose – stocking density, natural light, enrichment and CAS slaughter

Globally, an estimated 70 billion chickens are slaughtered annually for meat [1], 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, Compassion in World Farming aims to motivate progressive food companies to make a pledge to take tangible steps to improve the lives of the chickens in their supply chain, and to inspire others to follow suit, 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.”