ChickenTrack Report 2023 Unveils Progress, but more Retailers Urged to Join Better Chicken Movement

Compassion in World Farming has launched its second annual European ChickenTrack Report measuring company progress towards meeting the higher welfare requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC). ChickenTrack aims to help drive compliance, encourage transparency and support the successful transition to higher welfare chicken by holding companies accountable for their commitments. 

The BCC is a package of science-based criteria, and ALL the requirements need to be implemented to significantly improve the lives of broiler chickens. ChickenTrack 2023 assesses progress on each criterion, and this year shows that the majority of European companies 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.

Overall, the progress of 85 companies (chosen for their geographic relevance, size and ‘chicken footprint’) across eight European countries has been evaluated and encouragingly shows that reporting on transition has increased from 39% in 2022 (including producers) to 65% in 2023. The featured companies comprise of 33 retailers, 14 companies in the food service and hospitality sector, 23 restaurants, 9 manufacturers and 6 producers. Of the total 85 companies, 55* are reporting on their transition progress, 21 for the first time, including Burger King (France), Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (Europe) and Carrefour in Poland, Spain and Italy. Thirty companies are yet to start reporting.

Of the 85 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 transition 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.

However, in the UK, many of the major supermarkets are yet to sign up to the BCC, and it is imperative they do so if we are to raise the baseline standard of chicken. Only M&S and Waitrose have made the pledge (with M&S now selling 100% BCC-compliant fresh chicken). Other retailers like Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Morrisons have made commitments to reduce the stocking density of their chicken to 30kg/m². However, without breed change, which is central to affording chickens a better quality of life, their chicken cannot be considered higher welfare. Some retailers are offering a ‘tier’ of BCC-compliant chicken – such as Tesco’s ‘Room to Roam’ or Morrison’s ‘Space to Roam’, but these typically make up a small proportion of their full chicken offer. 

By using healthier chicken breeds and improving their living conditions, we can ensure that chickens live longer, healthier, and more satisfying lives. This not only results in better quality and more nutritious food but also meets the expectations of consumers. Supermarkets exert huge influence and can help stimulate the market as it shifts towards higher welfare, which is why signing up to the full package of the BCC criteria is crucial for accelerating change across the industry.

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

For all the 85 companies monitored in ChickenTrack, having a public-facing commitment is an important first step, however road-mapping a route to successful implementation is vital.    Companies need to plan and execute their implementation strategies – from securing financial investment from the business for the transition, to supply chain mapping, gap analysis and supply chain solutions, and the building of a timebound, clear plan of action. ChickenTrack Report 2023 explains how Compassion can help a company devise its own bespoke roadmap to achieve 100% compliance. Only two companies, Quick in France, and Italian producer Fileni have made their roadmaps public.

For any signatory to the BCC to achieve a successful transition, alignment and support from all stakeholders is key.  This means that:

  • Producers are willing to supply – and are active in finding supply chain partners
  • Food companies are willing to buy – committing to long-term contracts with suppliers and securing financial investment
  • Customers are willing to pay – supporting BCC-compliant chicken through their purchasing choices, encouraged by company marketing and brand loyalty

We urge all BCC signatories to develop yearly progress plans, supported by all stakeholders in the supply chain, outlining actions and targets to reach 100% compliance. Accompanied by a public facing transition timeline, this can help accelerate the shift to higher welfare chicken for the whole industry – which is the ultimate goal of the Better Chicken Commitment.

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 sector. 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.”

Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.