News update:Feb 8, 2008

Lower price of Tesco chickens 'ruffles feathers'

Animal welfare and farming groups have criticised UK's supermarket giant Tesco for lowering the retail price of its standard whole chicken to £1.99, says the BBC.

Help shoppers on a budget or devalue the product
The supermarket states that lowering the price of a bird from £3.30 will benefit "shoppers on a budget". The National Farmers' Union, however, says the move is "extremely ill-judged and short sighted".
NFU spokesman said the decision to cut the cost of standard, intensively-reared chicken was "completely the wrong thing" to do, adding that they are devaluing the product and doing it at a time when the market is strengthening and chicken prices are rising.
Reduce in price, not welfare
Tesco insists it has doubled the amount of free-range and organic chicken it is buying, and has seen a 70% rise in sales of premium birds compared to a year ago. "No-one should feel guilty buying a chicken just because it is good value," said Tesco's media director Jonathan Church. "The only reduction we make is in the price - not the welfare," he said, adding that consumers can be safe in the knowledge its birds have been "raised in the highest welfare environment".
Not the answer
The RSPCA, which oversees the "Freedom Food" programme for livestock welfare, said low-price chicken "was not the answer". "The consumer has the clout to change supermarket policy and we strongly encourage shoppers to buy higher welfare chicken and not be tempted by the discount," said a spokeswoman.
Price is seperate from value
The British Poultry Council's chief executive Peter Bradnock told BBC news that "The price at which Tesco choose to sell birds is a matter for Tesco… The price is no indicator of the conditions they are kept in… Producers have no knowledge of what promotions might be on, you can't rear birds for certain promotions, they are all reared to the same, independent standards."
Tesco has also increased orders for free-range birds, which, according to the store, makes up 30% of its total chicken sales. "We have been working hard for a while to increase the amount of higher-welfare chicken we sell," says Church.
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Editor WorldPoultry

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