Nestlé is to help improve the welfare of millions of chickens used for food in Europe through its leading food brands Herta, Buitoni, Wagner and Maggi.
The multi-national is taking a phased approach, actively working with supply chain partners and stakeholders to improve living conditions for chickens. It will ensure the use of more humane practices and reduce stocking density.
By 2026, all Nestlé food products in Europe that use chicken as an ingredient will move to higher standards for welfare as per the requirements set out in the European Broiler Ask.
Nestlé follows Knorr and Marks and Spencer in signing up to the European Broiler Ask welfare commitments.
Nestlé says improving animal welfare forms part of its efforts to use traceable and responsibly sourced ingredients in its products.
Marco Settembri, Nestlé Europe, Middle East and North Africa chief executive officer, said: “Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is made. As part of our commitment to source ingredients responsibly we will improve welfare standards for millions of chickens used in our food products in Europe, using our Herta, Buitoni, Wagner and Maggi ranges.”
Chilled meat brand Herta will make changes in its sourcing of chicken, beginning on 1 January 2019, as part of the longer-term transition to higher welfare standards. These products will be available under the existing Herta “Preference” mark in France.
Nestlé will engage suppliers and stakeholders to assess how chicken ingredient sources for its other brands and entire food portfolio can meet higher welfare standards while maintaining consumer access to affordable, high-quality product choices.
The announcement builds on a pledge on broiler welfare made by the company in the US last year and the firm’s decision to source cage free eggs only on a global basis by 2025.
The move was welcomed by animal welfare groups. Tracey Jones, Compassion in World Farming director of food business, said: “We are delighted that Nestlé has joined the ranks of other leading food companies signing up to the Better Chicken Commitment. Following their global commitment on cage-free eggs it really highlights the company’s ambition for continuous improvement in farm animal welfare.”
World Animal Protection international head of corporate engagement Martin Cooke said the charity had worked with the company for a number of years to boost welfare.
“This move means more space for chickens to move around, enriched environments and natural light to promote exercise, stretch their wings and carry out normal behaviours.”