Number Of Companies Making Progress Toward The Better Chicken Commitment Has More Than Tripled

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The number of companies reporting against their commitment to improve chicken welfare has more than tripled and includes four chicken producers in the U.S., according to the fourth annual U.S. ChickenTrack report released today by Compassion in World Farming.

The report – which tracks the progress of leading food businesses against their pledge to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) – shows that the number of companies making progress has risen from 12 to 41 in the last year and, for the first time, includes U.S. chicken suppliers Cooks Venture, Perdue Farms, Pitman Farms, and Wayne Farms.

The BCC makes improvements to broiler chicken welfare by introducing breeds with higher welfare outcomes, reducing stocking densities, and providing enrichments and better lighting so birds can express natural behaviors. Without these improvements, birds are raised in overcrowded, barren, dimly lit barns, and struggling to walk at the end of their lives due to their rapid weight gain.

The 41 companies featured in this report cover the following sectors: Retail, Pet Food, Meal Kit/Meat Box, Manufacturer, Food Service & Hospitality, and Restaurant. These companies, including HelloFresh, Jack in the Box and Chipotle, have demonstrated the importance of transparency by publicly reporting progress toward the BCC.

“HelloFresh has committed to publishing a roadmap for all aspects of the Better Chicken Commitment before the end of 2023 and will be reporting progress each year until we are 100% compliant across all criteria,” said Jeffrey Yorzyk, Senior Director of Sustainability at HelloFresh U.S. “As the leading meal kit provider, we will continue to push for further improvements and systemic change to offer our customers responsibly sourced and high-quality ingredients, consistent with our mission to change the way people eat, forever. We are grateful for our close working relationship with Compassion in World Farming and will continue to work together to drive the industry forward toward a more sustainable, humane food system.”

The shift to higher welfare breeds is a key pillar of the BCC and the latest U.S. chicken producer to sign up – Cooks Venture – is distinguished as the only company to have already met the higher welfare breed criteria for the BCC across its entire supply.

Over the past 14 years, Cooks Venture has worked to improve the welfare of its chickens and now exclusively uses its own specialty breed, ensuring the most valuable traits from heritage strains are maintained. This results in a chicken that is well-balanced for high welfare, good production, excellent meat quality and the ability to thrive outdoors.

“Cooks Venture is committed to transforming the way animals are raised and we believe that improved poultry genetics are at the core of all welfare reform needed in our food system,” said Matthew Wadiak, Founder and CEO of Cooks Venture. “We are proud to be the only BCC chicken producer to meet the higher welfare breed criteria across our entire supply, and to also verify our elevated animal welfare practices through both Global Animal Partnership and Certified Humane. Cooks Venture remains dedicated to the goals of the BCC, and we look forward to working alongside Compassion in World Farming and prospective customers to revolutionize the poultry industry for good.”

While nearly 20% of companies committed to the BCC have advanced their welfare goals this year, others have weakened or removed their BCC policies entirely, including Campbell Soup Company, Denny’s, Qboda, and Restaurant Brands International (which includes Burger King and Popeyes), to name a few.

Other notable brands that have yet to publicly commit to advance broiler chicken welfare by signing on to the BCC include ALDI, Chik-Fil-A, Walmart, The Walt Disney Company, Trader Joes, and Wendy’s.

Despite industry challenges, Natural Grocers, Blue Apron, and Compass Group, among others, have worked hard to ensure their commitments are setting an example for others to follow suit. Over half (51.21%) of the companies reporting have met 100 percent of at least one component of the BCC.

“Animal welfare is a cornerstone of our responsible sourcing strategy, and we are grateful for the continued support of the Compassion in World Farming team,” said Kelly Burton, Vice President of Sustainability and Social Impact at Blue Apron. “Their vision of reforming the food and farming system and introducing more humane, fair and sustainable practices aligns with the work Blue Apron does to see Better Living through Better Food.”

Not only did the number of companies reporting more than triple, but Compassion’s U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare’s membership has doubled as well, growing from 7 companies to 20.

The U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare was formed in 2021 to provide companies the opportunity to collaboratively approach how to improve broiler chicken welfare through the lens of the BCC. Facilitated by Compassion and Blue House Sustainability Consulting, the 20 member companies include Applegate, Aramark, Bon Appétit, ButcherBox, Compass Group, Delaware North, Earth Animal, General Mills, Giant Eagle, HelloFresh, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon, Natural Grocers, Nestlé U.S.A., Panera Bread, Pret A Manager, Shake Shack, Sodexo, Sprouts Farmers Market, Target, and Whole Foods.

“As a global leader in the hospitality and entertainment industry, Delaware North is committed to sustainability and responsible sourcing,” said Delaware North Director of Sustainability, Deb Friedel. “We are pleased to join the Working Group and look forward to benefitting from its expertise, as well as contributing to this important collaboration between business and non-profit participants to improve animal welfare.”

The Working Group has come together to explore practical strategies and creative solutions that will enable companies to progress toward their commitments, shifting broiler chicken supply chains in a way that meaningfully improves welfare and supports sustainability goals. Compassion anticipates the efforts and learnings of this group will create positive momentum and motivate widespread progress among the more than 230 U.S. brands that have committed to improving their welfare standards in alignment with the BCC.

“Nearly 10 billion chickens are raised for meat in the United States in very poor conditions, and that is why the Better Chicken Commitment is essential for raising the baseline and creating a more humane food system,” said Julia Johnson, Senior Food Business Manager at Compassion in World Farming. “The increase in the number of companies reporting in ChickenTrack demonstrates a momentum of change that is only going to continue to shift the industry toward a better system for these animals.”

Compassion in the World Farming’s team of food business managers and animal welfare specialists are working with others to dig into the research, answer questions and raise the baseline standard of broiler chicken welfare. Compassion works collaboratively with companies and has many technical resources that can facilitate auditing supply chain, calculating animal impact, and publishing a meaningful roadmap with incremental progress until 100% compliant.