Concerned shoppers reach for free range produce
British sales of free range and organic chickens and eggs are surging
as shoppers grow more concerned about animal welfare issues.
Farmers Union (NFU) has revealed that purchases of chickens
allowed to roam outdoors are rising at 10 times the rate of chickens mass
produced in a conventional indoor environment.
Sales of free range, organic and barn eggs in Britain's Â£3 billion-a-year
poultry industry are also rising fast while sales of eggs from battery chickens
According to a report released by market analyst Mintel , sales of eggs
produced by these three methods increased by 24 percent between 2002 and 2005 to
two billion, with eggs from battery chickens falling by 8 percent to 2.9 billion
over the same period.
Mintel believes animal welfare is the primary motivation for shoppers picking
less intensively produced eggs - although battery hens still account for six out
of every 10 eggs sold. "The widespread uptake of ethically positioned eggs by
both retailers and consumers is testament to the emotive nature of this
particular market," said Mintel representative Claire Birks.
The government recently published a report showing conditions for Britain's
800 million intensively raised broiler chickens remain poor, with deformities
common in many quickly-fattened birds, a quarter of whose legs could not support
their swollen bodies.
Some 94 percent of the 860 million broiler chickens produced in the UK every
year are reared indoors. Five percent of UK chickens produced for the table are
free range and 1 percent organic.
The NFU said production of free-range chickens had risen by 20 percent in the
past three years while organic chicken production was up by 50 percent this year
alone, compared with a rise for standard broilers of just 4 percent this
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