The Pecking Order: fast-food chains falling behind on chicken welfare


The Pecking Order: fast-food chains falling behind on chicken welfare

27 November 2023
Some of the biggest fast-food brands in Europe are performing very poorly on their management of and reporting on broiler chicken welfare, a new report from World Animal Protection shows.

The European Chicken Commitment (ECC) is a set of minimum requirements that will improve the welfare of chickens considerably and cost-efficiently.

The Pecking Order report analysed 69 companies across France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Spain on their commitment to address chicken welfare throughout their supply chains, and how much progress they are making on implementing the requirements of the ECC.

Each year, over 7 billion broiler chickens are killed for consumption in the EU. 95% of the broiler chickens currently reared on factory farms are fast-growing, selectively bred to reach slaughter weight in just five to six weeks. Their growth rate has a huge impact on their health and welfare.

The results show that only 49% of the companies analysed have published a broiler chicken welfare policy that demonstrates alignment with some or all of the ECC criteria, with 51% having no commitments on the topic at all.

A staggering 90% of companies analysed are ranked in the lowest scoring tier (very poor) on progress reporting, having published very little or nothing on broiler chicken welfare issues.

While the overall score for the fast-food companies assessed in France has improved, Germany, Spain and Italy have shown slight reductions in their overall company scores. Poland and Romania have overall scores that are significantly lower than the other markets assessed.

Too many companies are still in denial, and close their eyes to the plight of the animals that they are responsible for. If they think they can get away with greenwashing or hide behind misguided excuses about climate footprints and affordability, I have a simple message: They can't. Companies that use chickens in their supply chains are responsible and must be held accountable for ensuring their wellbeing.

Dirk Verdonk, World Animal Protection

The report is a united project by World Animal Protection, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, Essere Animali, L214, and Humane Society International.