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The retailer will complete the switch to the 30kg/sq m stocking density by October

Aldi has become the latest in a growing list of major supermarkets to commit to improvements in animal welfare standards within its poultry supply chain.

The retailer has announced a reduction in stocking densities for its fresh chicken suppliers, from 38kg/sq m to 30kg/sq m – giving chickens 20% more space than the industry standard.

It added the switch, which is due to come into force this October, was ahead of “several” other major supermarkets to have made similar commitments.

Aldi chickens would be given more space to engage in natural behaviours including stretching wings, dust bathing and roaming, it said. Birds would also have increased access to environmental enrichment such as straw bales, perches, pecking objects and natural light.

The move was complemented by a separate commitment to a “multimillion-pound” financial support package for its chicken farmers and suppliers over the course of 2024/25, Aldi said. That investment is understood to include benefits such as support to invest in new farm infrastructure and technology, which in turn improves animal welfare.

Aldi’s announcement follows similar moves by M&S (this week), as well as Tesco, Morrisons, The Co-op, Lidl and Sainsbury’s, who have all committed to or completed switches to reducing stocking densities to 30kg/sq m since last year.

Read more: M&S cuts chicken stocking densities in latest animal welfare commitment

But like the above retailers (apart from M&S), Aldi has not signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment, which mandates a raft of further animal welfare improvements, most notably the need to switch to slower-growing chicken breeds such as the Hubbard or the Oakham Gold.

M&S’s move to reduce its stocking densities this week meant it moved a step closer to meeting the full obligations of the BCC, having switched to the Oakham Gold breed in 2022 for fresh chicken. Waitrose has also signed up to the BCC, but is yet to commit to a switch to slower-growing breeds.

The reluctance of the vast majority of UK supermarkets to join the BCC was a key reason that the transition to better animal welfare in European chicken supply chains was “falling behind”, warned Compassion in World farming in March.

Animal welfare was “of paramount importance”, to Aldi, said its MD of UK buying Julie Ashfield this week.

“We’re already one of the UK’s largest providers of responsibly farmed chicken and we’ve been working hard with our suppliers to reduce stocking density to help us improve the living conditions of these animals even further,” she added.

“Thanks to this latest improvement, customers will be provided with access to higher welfare chicken at the same great value that can’t be matched.”