Red Tractor launches ‘enhanced welfare’ chicken standard

The Red Tractor scheme is launching a new Enhanced Welfare standard for chicken.

The chicken grown under this standard will be labelled with a purple label in shops to differentiate it from chicken grown under the standard requirements. 

The Enhanced Welfare standard meets the requirements laid out in the Better Chicken Commitment, which has been adopted by foodservice chains including KFC, and retailers such as M&S and Waitrose and requires slower growing breeds to be used, lower stocking densities, plus environmental enrichment and additional light.

Red Tractor said increasingly consumers are demanding a greater choice and for the scheme to clearly differentiate how some of the product carrying its label is produced.

Extensive UK and international research conducted by Red Tractor has helped develop the labelling system for the additional standards modules.

The new marques retain the union flag, the distinctive tractor with the heart in the wheel sitting on a ‘tick’, but replaces the words Certified Standards from the core logo, with the farming method used. Each new marque will have its own colour:

Free range for chicken: Orange
Enhanced welfare for chicken: Purple
Organic: Green  

Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley said: ‘“Grounded in the values of the Red Tractor scheme – animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection – this is an important broadening of the scheme which for 20 years has, and continues to, transform and build trust in British farming and food quality.

“Over the past 18 months we have been focused on how we can provide greater choice and clarity for those shoppers and diners who are looking to buy British produce grown and reared to recognised production methods, with the added confidence that it’s been checked every step of the way from farm to pack.

“Red Tractor is uniquely positioned to be a valuable navigation tool, which safeguards the supply chain of retailers and foodservice brands and reduces the audit burden for farmers and processors. The new modular approach is supported by a clear and simple process, which could strip out some of the complexity from labels on pack and menus.”

The new ranges will begin to roll out across food service and retail over the next 12 months.  As with the core offering, accredited members will be required to meet robust specifications for the new ranges, which will be checked by independent assessors every step of the food’s journey from farm to pack.

Enhanced Welfare for Chicken

The module has been developed in consultation with international industry experts, producers and key stakeholders in retail and foodservice. 

In addition to the world-leading requirements already in the core Red Tractor standards, the module includes a slower growing chicken breed and more space and natural light in barns to encourage natural behaviours like pecking, scratching, wing flapping and use of perches. Stocking density is reduced from 38kg/m² to 30kg/m².

Moseley said: “As the Agriculture Bill passes through the House of Lords, there’s perhaps no more important time for consumers to have real clarity about the food they buy. Red Tractor now provides even greater variety whatever the choice or budget. Underpinned by the safety and traceability of our core standards, the ‘Enhanced Welfare’ range uses selective breeds, such as those from the slower growing Hubbard portfolio, which are reared indoors and have more room to grow for longer.”

Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said: “We are delighted with the introduction of the Red Tractor Enhanced Welfare module and marque for indoor chicken which meets the requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment.

“It is an important enabler for companies who want to source to this standard and the marque provides a clear visual identity which, along with the free range and organic labels, allows consumers to understand how their chicken was produced and make informed choices.

“We welcome the introduction of the Enhanced Welfare module as it will help companies across all sectors uplift their auditing and promote their higher welfare credentials to their customers.”

The Enhanced welfare module meets all the requirements of the 2026 Better Chicken Commitment/ European Chicken Commitment but is also underpinned by the world-leading safety and traceability benefits of Red Tractor. This Enhanced Welfare Module will complement the existing core standards and Free-Range chicken module.

Red Tractor will continue to examine which sectors would benefit from this modular approach.

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