European chicken companies that have signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment have had their shift towards the criteria tracked in a new report from Compassion in World Farming.
The European ChickenTrack Report measures how fast the companies who have signed up to the standard are meeting their commitments.
Over 350 companies in Europe and the UK have signed up to the BCC to date. The 2022 ChickenTrack report covers 60 companies selected based on their geographic relevance and size. It shows that 31 (42%) of the commitments (across 27 companies) have made progress with 12 commitments (16%) reporting 100% compliance with at least one of the BCC criteria. However, more than half of commitments (42) across 37 companies (58%) are not reporting progress.
Only Norwegian producer Norsk Kylling is 100% compliant across its entire chicken production and just four company commitments (5%) report progress against full BCC compliance – REMA 1000 at 96%, Eroski at 39%, Elior at 22% and IKEA at 3%.
ChickenTrack details improvements across the six specific BCC criteria:
- stocking density (the most reported criteria for 25 commitments), average transition 30%
- breed change (reported for 21 commitments), average transition 21%
- natural light provision (reported for 23 commitments), average transition 43%
- enrichment provision (reported for 24 commitments), average transition 47%
- controlled atmospheric stunning (CAS) (reported for 19 commitments), average transition 54%
- auditing to BCC compliance – reported by one company only, M&S
CIWF said that given the international backdrop of the continued impact of the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and the continued prevalence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), it is encouraging that progress is being reported.
There have been more than 120 commitments from companies in the UK, the majority coming from the out-of-home sector which includes contract caterers and fast food restaurants. Two of six UK producers, PD Hook Hatcheries and 2 Sisters Food Group have pledged to supply chicken to the BCC standard. Two UK retailers have also signed up to the BCC: M&S and Waitrose. M&S is the first company in the UK to transition 100% of its fresh chicken successfully, under its Oakham Gold brand.
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.”
Other UK retailers have introduced a BCC-compliant fresh chicken tier however, this typically makes up a small proportion of their full chicken offer. Tesco brought in its ‘Room to Roam’ range in April 2020 and Morrisons introduced its ‘Space to Roam’ range in February 2021. Sainsbury’s announced plans to reduce the stocking density of its own-brand chicken to 30kg/m2 by March 2023.