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Factory farmed meat chickens in crowded conditions

At a time when multiple companies are committing to higher welfare chicken across the globe, I’m at a loss when two of our major food business partners – who have traditionally been leaders in farm animal welfare – are taking a sideways step for chickens.

I recently spoke about McDonald’s inadequate global welfare standards for chicken, and today I am extremely disappointed to say that IKEA are withdrawing from their higher welfare commitments under our Good Chicken Award.

IKEA Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Denmark, Finland and France have regrettably made little progress in introducing the higher welfare standards they pledged to put in place and are therefore withdrawing from the Good Chicken Award.  Only IKEA Italy and IKEA Switzerland retain their awards as they continue to honour their higher welfare commitments.

IKEA first contacted Compassion in 2008 as they were keen to learn more about farm animal welfare and we have been working closely with them to develop and implement their global animal welfare strategy. Since then, IKEA has introduced a cage-free egg policy across much of its European business and has a global aspiration to use only free-range eggs.

Their move on cage-free eggs prompted a further decision to introduce higher welfare chicken across their European business, for which they received a number of Good Chicken Awards from Compassion. Despite working with them on their roadmap to introduce the required higher welfare criteria, their level of ambition has waned and their commitment has not been achieved.

Despite this news, chickens are not off the radar.  In the past year alone, more than 50 US companies (including SubwayBurger King and Kraft Heinz) have made 2024 commitments to make meaningful improvements to the lives of chickens by tackling the fundamental problems of fast growing breeds, and the basic need to provide enough space and an enriched environment for the chickens to live and carry out normal behaviours.

Intensive chickens often suffer painful crippling

In Europe, global giants Unilever and Elior Group recently committed to advancing the welfare of chickens in their global supply chains.

IKEA’s lack of progress is not only disappointing, but a highly retrograde step and completely at odds with the growing movement for higher welfare chicken we are witnessing in both in the EU and US.

With so many other companies responding to the increasing consumer concern for animal welfare and the weight of scientific evidence showing the need to improve the welfare of chickens, it’s baffling to me that IKEA, like McDonald’s, are not joining the movement.

Like any other business decision, commitments on animal welfare should be made for the long term, embedded into a public facing policy and supported at all levels in the business to ensure they can be achieved.

It cannot be denied that a chicken revolution is coming. Companies can no longer bury their heads in the sand and I wholeheartedly urge IKEA to rethink their approach. After all it’s what their customers expect and it’s ultimately what’s going to be right for the future of their business.

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