WAITROSE has said it will source only slower-growing breeds of bird and reduce stocking densities on its broiler farms by 2026.

The supermarket said it was already undergoing trials with Moy Park, its “long-term poultry supplier and research partner”.

It follows Marks & Spencer, Nestlé and Knorr in signing up to the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ that calls for higher welfare production as standard.

The Better Chicken Commitment is the public-facing name of the Broiler Ask Campaign.

The RSPCA says it is urging other supermarkets to follow suit, and other welfare organisations and charities across Europe are calling for the same.

The measures call for the use of higher welfare breeds of chickens, providing natural light, more space, enrichment – such as straw bales and objects to peck at – and perching, as well as adopting more humane methods of slaughter. The full list of requirements is linked to below.

‘Best standards’

Waitrose & Partners commercial director Rupert Thomas said: “Along with our farmers and suppliers, we are committed to making the very best standards of farm animal welfare mainstream.

“We believe that compassionate farming and good business go hand in hand and that’s why we are especially proud to add our name to the 2026 European Chicken Commitment Pledge.

“We already have significant research underway in conjunction with our suppliers and leading academic bodies and we look forward to playing our part in improving the welfare of broiler chickens.”

Two supermarkets

Kate Parkes, chicken welfare specialist at the RSPCA said: “This move by Waitrose is another great step for meat chickens and consumers.

“We are really pleased that now two of the country’s best-known supermarkets have jumped on board with this very important initiative, and we are hopeful that it will give their competitors the wake-up call they need to realise that animal welfare cannot go on being ignored.”

And Philip Lymbery CEO of Compassion in World Farming commented: “We wholeheartedly welcome Waitrose and Partners in joining the European Chicken Commitment.

“This is another development in their ongoing commitment to higher animal welfare policies and performance.”

For five years, Waitrose & Partners has ranked in the top tier of the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, which published this year’s results at the end of February.

Additional resources