Compassion in World Farming has launched its preliminary European ChickenTrack report which aims to measure company progress towards meeting the higher welfare requirements of the 2026 Better Chicken Commitment (BCC). This introductory report rounds up progress over the last year, provides some examples of best practice reporting, and lays out a reporting framework for businesses to adopt ahead of the 2022 European ChickenTrack.
Over the past four years, more than 270 food companies have acknowledged their responsibility in improving the breeding, living conditions and slaughter practices for the meat chickens in their supply by committing to the BCC, promising to introduce the higher welfare criteria by 2026. Measures include using slower-growing breeds that have better welfare outcomes and providing the birds with more space to live and enriching their environment via access to perches, pecking substrates (such as straw bales or scattered grain) and natural light. Signatories must also use more humane slaughter methods and submit to third-party audits.
This move in the market is the biggest shift in chicken welfare for over a decade and ChickenTrack aims to drive compliance and encourage transparency, by sharing best practice from the companies who are demonstratively leading the way.
This first edition highlights some examples of best practice reporting from companies like KFC, M&S and Sodebo in France, and provides a reporting framework that companies can adopt. It explains how Compassion will begin to track and report on company progress annually starting from 2022.
The growing number of commitments across the different food sectors is a positive and hugely important first step towards making higher welfare chicken the norm, but a fundamental shift across, and from within, the industry is needed and requires a collective effort to build supply of higher welfare chicken ahead of the 2026 BCC deadline.
Companies must work with their suppliers and agree contracts; parent flocks will need to be laid down and scaled-up, product offerings may need to change, and the consumer needs to be brought on board.
Through ChickenTrack we aim to support, offer advice, and encourage companies making that journey so that a successful transition to higher welfare chicken becoming the baseline standard is achieved across all sectors.
Dr Tracey Jones, Global Director of Food Business, Compassion in World Farming said: “Companies signing up to the BCC are taking a major step towards raising baseline standards for broiler chickens, and we urge every food business to take that pledge.
“But a commitment alone is not enough; it is essential that companies move forward on their implementation plans and report year-on-year progress. ChickenTrack will help monitor that progress annually and will provide recommendations and advice, while recognising those companies that are leading the way.
“We are excited about the future of chicken welfare and will continue to work with industry to ensure that better standards for broilers are accomplished. System change at scale and pace like this inevitably comes with its challenges but with open minds and resourcefulness a true market shift to higher welfare chicken is achievable if we all work together now to make it a success.”
ChickenTrack will begin to highlight company progress towards broiler welfare commitments in 2022 and companies are asked to publicly disclose their reporting ahead of the 31 July 2022 deadline.