Tesco is developing a new fresh chicken product range that will be reared with lower stocking densities and using slower growing breeds.
The retailer will stock the indoor-reared lines alongside its current Red Tractor Assured products.
The Better Chicken Commitment, developed by Compassion In World Farming, has gained significant traction among retailers and foodservice providers across Europe, with the likes of Unilever, Compass Group, KFC and Waitrose signing up. The move has caused ‘significant concern’ among producers, according to the NFU, which says the campaign has failed to recognise the progress made on welfare in recent years in standard production, and has fueled a surge of animal rights activity, including farm break-ins.
Tesco said it already required its poultry suppliers to uphold high animal welfare standards, beyond Red Tractor. These are set out in the Tesco Welfare Assured Standards, with its application across its supply chain audited by a third party auditor, INTEGRA. The Tesco Sustainable Farming Group for Poultry brings together suppliers and Tesco to review and update welfare standards.
A Tesco spokesman said: “All our fresh chicken meets or exceeds Government-approved industry welfare standards, as well as Red Tractor. Our Organic and Finest brands meet the Better Chicken Commitment and early next year we’ll be extending our range of higher welfare chicken which will also meet this commitment. Working with our farmers and suppliers, we are committed to continuously improving the quality of our range to stay in line with best practice and animal welfare expertise. We will be extending the range to include a higher welfare product, including more indoor chicken. It will meet all points of the Commitment and our aim is to make it more affordable.”