Half of UK chickens produced by US agriculture giants


Half of UK chickens produced by US agriculture giants

8 April 2020
Half of the UK’s chickens are being produced by companies fully or partly controlled by US agribusinesses, according to an analysis of industry data, fuelling concerns of growing American influence over the British food sector.

Moy Park, owned by Pilgrims Pride, now produces approximately 312 million birds a year, while Avara Foods – a joint venture between the US giant Cargill and the UK’s Faccenda Foods – slaughters 234 million. About a billion birds are killed every year in UK abattoirs.

The growing US presence on British chicken farms has been accompanied by growth in American-style intensive farming. A Guardian and Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation has found that the number of large intensive farms in Britain has risen by a further 7% in the past three years, despite previous assurances from the government that the UK would not adopt US farming practices.

In 2017, Michael Gove, then the environment secretary, said: “One thing is clear: I do not want to see, and we will not have, US-style farming in this country”. He was responding to the Guardian and Bureau’s revelation that there were almost 800 intensive farms in the UK that would fulfil the US definition of a “megafarm”: a unit housing 125,000 chickens raised for meat, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs, 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle.