29 March 2015 | Online since 2003



Co-Operative Group's Good Chicken award withdrawn


Compassion in World Farming is withdrawing the Co-Operative Food's Good Chicken Award following its decision to increase the stocking density of its broiler chickens, from 15 to 17 birds per square metre.

While the stocking density increase from 30kg to 34kg per square metre meets legal requirements and is not as high as the standard British chicken sold by most other retailers, it goes above the maximum limit set for Compassion's Good Chicken Award.

The Good Chicken Award publically recognises companies committing to provide higher welfare standards for meat chickens throughout their supply chain, and a reduced stocking density (max 30kg per square metre) is just one of the criteria to be met. The Co-operative Food signed up to this agreement in perpetuity in 2010 for its fresh and frozen chicken meat.

Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business, Compassion in World Farming, said: "We're very disappointed that The Co-operative has taken this step. We have had a long and productive relationship with them and they have traditionally been a leader on the animal welfare agenda in the food industry. As well as the Good Chicken Award, they have also received a Good Egg Award, a Good Dairy Award and Supermarket Awards for introducing higher welfare standards in their supply chain. However, we cannot ignore that the company is now reneging on the criteria for our Good Chicken Award and feel that sadly we have no choice but to withdraw it."

The Co-operative say they have increased stocking density for economic reasons, so they can continue to provide their customers with British chicken at competitive prices.

Indeed these are difficult times for consumers faced with food cost rises and The Co-operative recently responded with their announcement to "remove price as a barrier" throughout 2014, which was kicked off with a three-day flash sale on milk, eggs and bread in January. But driving down costs through further intensification of farming systems is not the way forward and the animals are paying the price.

Increasing the number of birds by just two for every square metre of floor space in the shed may not sound like such a big deal.

However, at 30kg per square metre (15 birds per square metre), the birds use all the floor space available, allowing them to move around the house more freely and express more of their natural behaviours, improving both their physical and mental wellbeing. Eroding this space provision, is a slippery slope to ever increasing stocking densities and a move away from the higher welfare provision, expected by consumers of The Co-operative.

Jones added: "Approximately 900 million chickens are reared for meat in the UK each year and a staggering 86 million[1] are wasted - that's almost 10%. It's crazy then to think we cannot afford to provide them with a little more space and give them a little more freedom of movement to benefit their short lives."

"Consumers do empathise with the welfare of broiler chickens when their rearing conditions are publicised, but when faced with increasing food prices and '3 for £10' offers this does not often convert into purchasing behaviour in favour of higher welfare options. Chicken meat has unfortunately become so much of a commodity it's difficult to connect it with the living animal and the cheap price has eroded our ethical value of its life. It's time to reconnect the public with the broiler chicken and to increase the demand for sustainable higher welfare chicken meat from food companies. By paying a little more, by eating less and wasting less, meat can be produced to higher welfare standards, which is affordable for all."

Compassion's Food Business programme aims to forge positive relationships built on trust with food companies to improve welfare standards across the industry. Compassion values the long term relationship they have enjoyed with The Co-operative and whilst regretting this backward step with regard to the Good Chicken Award we aim to continue our positive dialogue with the company in the future.

Tracey concludes: "We hope The Co-operative will reconsider its decision and be able to supply its customers with higher welfare chicken meat across its ranges soon. It's sad to see such an ethical retailer committed to animal welfare take this decision.

"Manufacturers, retailers and consumers all need to pull together to make the short life of the chickens we eat better. Providing for their basic needs, wasting less, and valuing their lives are just the beginning."

Download



Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


25 March 2015
Planning Officer (Policy and Delivery)
Situated on the beautiful east coast of Suffolk with significant economic growth potential due to off-shore wind farms and on...

16 March 2015
Trainee LGV Driver
To maximise the payload using electronic weighing equipment on fleet vehicles To safely tip and discharge load at scheduled d...

10 March 2015
Scientific lab sales - Northern England
This role is to increase sales of a wide portfolio of laboratory products to a variety of customers including petro-chemical,...

16 March 2015
Sales Progressor / Sales Admin Apprentice
Some duties for this role will include: Progressor - (Driver) Preparing vehicles ready for customers Cleaning vehicles Moving...

9 March 2015
Agricultural Property Solicitor
Commit to continued professional development in agriculture. Agricultural Property Solicitor....




Top stories you may have missed
23 March 2015 | Cattle

UK butchers face difficulties to recruit...

Butchers in the UK are losing a generation through lack of training opportu...


20 March 2015 | Arable

Dust - the secret fertiliser?

NASA research has revealed how dust blown from the Sahara desert helps supp...


19 March 2015 | Arable

The Budget 2015: A Farmer's Budget?

“In the run up to the Budget 2015 most commentators were predicting that th...


17 March 2015 | News

UK's first floating solar power system l...

The UK’s first fully operational floating solar panel system has been unvei...


13 March 2015 | Animal Health

Labour and Conservatives clash over badg...

Axing the badger cull in England and Wales will save more than £120 million...


12 March 2015 | News

Solar could be cheapest energy source by...

By 2025, solar power could become one of the cheapest forms of energy in ma...


11 March 2015 | Finance

English buyers turn their attention to S...

Demand for Scottish farm land remains strong and continues to be better val...


9 March 2015 | Cattle

2020 vision for the Welsh red meat indus...

The Welsh red meat industry should aim to increase sales by at least 34 per...


6 March 2015 | News

MP raises egg industry concerns on trans...

Fears about the impact that a proposed transatlantic trade agreement could ...


Stay safe and legal when flying drones

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems - or dron...