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Compassion in World Farming has launched its first annual ChickenTrack report

Compassion in World Farming has launched its first annual ChickenTrack report to measure company progress towards the higher welfare requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment.

The 2022 ChickenTrack has revealed that more than half of commitments (58%) across 37 companies are not making progress at all.

However, 42% of the commitments have made progress, with 12 commitments reporting 100% compliance with at least one of the BCC criteria.

Only Norwegian producer Norsk Kylling is 100% compliant across its entire chicken production and just four companies (5%) report progress against full BCC compliance – Rema 1000 at 96%, Eroski at 39%, Elior at 22% and Ikea at 3%.

Over 350 companies in Europe and the UK have signed up to the BCC to date and the new report tracks 73 commitments made by 60 companies based on their geographic relevance and size.

ChickenTrack has detailed improvements across the six specific BCC criteria: stocking density, breed change, natural light provision, enrichment provision, controlled atmosphere stunning and auditing to BCC compliance.

The 2022 report has provided a baseline for tracking year-on-year industry progress in the future.

The group said that considering the international backdrop of Covid, the war in Ukraine, inflation and bird flu, “it is encouraging that progress is being reported”.

“However, despite these challenges it is imperative that companies continue to work on developing their implementation roadmaps and ongoing building blocks for success to enable a smooth transition at scale when the economic environment improves,” it said.

Only two UK retailers have signed up to the BCC: M&S and Waitrose. M&S is the first company in the UK to transition 100% of its fresh chicken successfully, under the Oakham Gold, RSPCA Assured label.

“We want to keep raising the bar to improve chicken welfare, and our slower-growing birds are now more active and resilient. Since the introduction of Oakham Gold, we have received lots of positive feedback from our customers,” said Vivienne Harris, agriculture manager at M&S.

Other UK retailers have introduced a BCC-compliant fresh chicken tier. Tesco brought in its ‘Room to Roam’ range in April 2020 and Morrisons introduced its ‘Space to Roam’ range in February 2021.

CIWF has urged all UK retailers to sign up to the BCC to “galvanise market transition and make higher welfare chicken the industry norm”.

“Higher-welfare chicken should be a priority for all food companies,” said Dr Tracey Jones, global director for food business at CIWF. “By using more robust breeds and providing them with better living conditions they can live longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives. It is possible and it’s what consumers expect.”