Whole Foods Market has joined the U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare to improve the lives of chickens and help businesses meet their animal welfare commitments. Broiler chickens are bred and raised specifically for meat production, often at the highest yield and lowest cost possible, and at the expense of animal welfare and meat quality. In 2021, Compassion in World Farming formed the US Working Group for Broiler Welfare. In this collaborative hub, restaurant chains, grocers, food service providers, and other food businesses are working together to improve the lives of chickens they depend on for their products. Nine grocers have joined the U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare working group, including Whole Foods Market, Giant Eagle, Target, HelloFresh, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers. The group currently has 16 member organizations that collectively purchased more than 540 million pounds of chicken in 2021. Through the working group, companies have a space to share best practices and create innovative strategies to transition to higher welfare standards as defined in the Better Chicken Commitment.
Whole Foods Market has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the industry. By joining the U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare, Whole Foods Market can help other companies make similar changes to their supply chain. “At Whole Foods Market, we’ve long maintained rigorous quality standards across our meat department and take the issue of broiler chicken welfare seriously,” said Karen Christensen, SVP of merchandising for perishables at Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market . “We sincerely appreciate the important work of Compassion in World Farming, and we’re excited to join the Working Group to share what we’ve learned about raising the bar for broiler welfare and to join with others in pushing for systemic change.”
In the U.S., demand for ethically sourced meat products is growing. The changes in welfare standards are spurred by investor demand and the consumer’s willingness to pay more for ethically sourced animal products. To help meet the higher demand, the U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare is partnering with Perdue Farms, the fourth largest chicken producer in the U.S., to help raise the supply of slower-growing broiler chickens. “Change is hard, and there is resistance to this change because it requires investment,” said Tessa Hale, US head of food business for Compassion in World Farming, which is leading the group. “It requires shifting systems, but that has to happen.” Their efforts could improve the lives of 111 million birds each year according to Compassion in World Farming.