2 SISTERS Food Group has said that 20% of the 10.5 million chickens it produces weekly are now reared to higher welfare standards.

The poultry integrator said this made it Europe’s largest producer of higher-welfare poultry.

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It coincides with the Co-op formally introducing new lower stocking density chicken across its entire fresh range, supplied by 2 Sisters.

The retailer was faced with pressure to adopt the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), most notably at its last AGM, where a motion of support saw some 31,000 members of the supermarket (96% of total votes) supporting a switch to the BCC.

Instead, the Co-op said it would retain conventional breeds of bird, but drop stocking densities to 30kg/sq m by the second half of 2024.

Stocking density

At the end of February, it announced it had switched its supply chain to the lower stocking densities ahead of schedule and invested in keeping prices the same for shoppers.

And ‘Phase 2’ is now underway; lowering stocking densities for added-value products.

Sinead Bell, Co-op’s commercial director, said: “Animal welfare is extremely important to us, our member-owners and our customers, and we work very hard to ensure that all the animals in our supply chain are looked after.

“I’m really proud of our change to reduce stocking density, where we have made a significant investment into poultry welfare to give our chickens more space.”

Higher welfare

Ranjit Singh, president of 2 Sister’s parent company, Boparan Holdings, said: “This is great news, and I’m delighted that the Co-op has chosen this higher welfare chicken.

“As a business, we’re on a journey to transform our poultry operations to produce happier, healthier birds, and this is the latest milestone in that journey.

“We’ve listened very closely to our customers – and also consumers – who tell us they want more options when it comes to higher welfare chicken as well.

“We’ll always produce the full range of products, ranging from organic, free range to standard birds, but as the years go by, more and more people are asking for higher welfare birds that are still competitively priced, and that’s what we’re proud to deliver.

“And we’re not stopping here. The journey will continue as we move more of our estate to higher welfare birds.