Momentum for higher welfare broiler chicken grows in US

The aim is to improve the welfare of 111 million chickens annually
calendar icon 26 August 2022
clock icon 4 minute read

Nine new leading food businesses join the US Working Group for Broiler Welfare, bringing the group to 16 members, according to a press release. The doubling of members demonstrates the drive of food businesses to achieve higher welfare practices for broiler chickens based on consumer and investor demand.

The Working Group now includes Applegate, Aramark, Compass Group, Earth Animal, Giant Eagle, HelloFresh US, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon, Natural Grocers, Nestlé USA, Panera Bread, Pret a Manger, Shake Shack, Sodexo, Sprouts, Target and Whole Foods. Collectively these businesses purchased over 540 million pounds of chicken in 2021.

Facilitated by Compassion in World Farming and Blue House Sustainability Consulting, the Working Group aims to support food businesses in exploring workable strategies and creative solutions for transitioning supply chains through the welfare standards outlined in the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC). Jointly, the Working Group members stand to improve the lives of over 111 million chickens annually.

The Working Group is collaborating with Perdue Farms, the fourth largest chicken producer in the US, to assist members in meeting their animal welfare commitments over the next few years. Since 2016, Perdue has continued to make improvements, shifting broiler chicken supply chains to improve welfare standards in alignment with the BCC as consumers increasingly desire these products. The company was the first major poultry company to install a Controlled Atmosphere Stunning unit, which provides a more humane slaughter method than traditional practices and has plans to convert other facilities.

"Many of Perdue's Animal Care practices are aligned with the Better Chicken Commitment core tenants. As part of Perdue's commitment to continuous improvement, we will continue in our collaboration with Compassion in World Farming and this Working Group to ensure that existing and future new customers can offer products from animals raised according to BCC committed standards in order to meet the demand," said Bruce Stewart-Brown, SVP Technical Services and Innovation, Perdue.

"Core to our mission is procuring high-quality and responsibly sourced ingredients but creating systemic change as an individual player that doesn't raise or process chicken can be challenging," said Jeff Yorzyk, Director of Sustainability at HelloFresh US. "As a member of this Working Group led by Compassion in World Farming, we look forward to partnering closely with our peers and engaging suppliers in ways that will accelerate the implementation of the BCC."

"The Working Group is developing needed tools to assist us in our commitments and work from communication fact sheets to auditing and labeling protocols," said Kristen Smith, Director of Sustainability, Earth Animal. "We appreciate the candid conversations with Compassion in World Farming and other members about common challenges and potential solutions, which help to inform our strategy and approach and to educate other companies in our industry as well."

The Working Group came together in 2021 to explore practical strategies and creative solutions that will enable member companies to progress toward their commitments. Compassion USA anticipates this group's ongoing efforts and learnings will continue the positive momentum and motivate widespread progress among the more than 200 U.S. brands that have committed to improving their welfare standards in alignment with the BCC.

"Bringing leading food businesses together in the Working Group allows for real collaboration, innovation and progress toward higher standards of welfare for the more than 9 billion chickens raised in the US annually," said Tessa Hale, US Head of Food Business, Compassion in World Farming. "The expansion of the Working Group reflects the desire for meaningful change in how we treat the planet's most-farmed animal. In addition to our many new food business partners, we are thrilled to collaborate with several top chicken producers, such as Perdue, who are leading the way in animal welfare practices."

"At Whole Foods Market, we've long maintained rigorous Quality Standards across our Meat Department and take the issue of broiler chicken welfare seriously. We sincerely appreciate the important work of Compassion in World Farming, and we're excited to join the Working Group to share what we've learned about raising the bar for broiler welfare and to join with others in pushing for systemic change," said Karen Christensen, SVP of Merchandising for Perishables, Whole Foods Market.

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