US-based food company Conagra Brands has committed to implement higher standards for the welfare of its broiler chickens.
The company, which owns a large range of companies, including restaurant chain Marie Callender’s, frozen chicken and read to heat meals firm Banquet and emerging brand BOOMCHICKAPOP, will work with its suppliers, peers and other external stakeholders to take action on a range of issues by 2024, including:
- Source 100% of chicken used in products from either RSPCA or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) approved breeds or strains
- Offer improved environments that meet GAP standards for better lighting, litter quality and other enrichments
- Provide birds with more space to perform natural behaviours, including a stocking density of no greater than 6 pounds per square foot and no use of broiler cages
- Employ a multi-step controlled atmosphere processing system and avoid live-shackling or live-dumping
- Track supplier compliance via third-party auditing
The company has been working with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on the new goals, which represent an expansion to Conagra’s existing broiler chicken policy.
Dave Biegger, Conagra Brands chief supply officer, said the company was committed to the humane treatment of animals: “It is our belief that creating quality food for our consumers is more than just putting ingredients together.
“We’re proud to work with the Humane Society of the US as well as others in the food industry to take meaningful steps towards positive change in broiler chicken welfare practices.
“We recognised that our 2024 goals require industry-wide partnership to succeed and we will collaborate across our value chain to further animal welfare while preserving consumer access to quality, affordable food.”
Josh Balk, HSUS vice president, applauded Conagra for addressing the most pressing concerns related to chicken meat production: “We’re enthusiastic about working with Conagra and look forward to continuing our work together throughout 2019 and beyond.”
The company has already committed to using 100% cage free eggs throughout its US and Canadian operations by 2025.
Last month, the firm announced that its brand Gardein would expand its plant-based food lines to meet the growing interest in the modern flexitarian diet.