Meat

Background

A ‘better life’ for all Dutch supermarket chickens

By the end of 2023, fresh chicken sold in all Dutch supermarkets will bear at least 1 ‘Beter Leven’ (Better Life) star.

“The list of supermarkets is now complete. It’s a great milestone…A worldwide first. We are proud of the Dutch supermarkets and the chicken sector that they are opting for more animal-friendly farming,” says Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier, an animal welfare organisation in the Netherlands.


  • To produce chicken with the Better Life quality mark, broiler farmers must provide a covered outside area for the birds. Photo: Nepluvi

    To produce chicken with the Better Life quality mark, broiler farmers must provide a covered outside area for the birds. Photo: Nepluvi

National supermarket chain, Boni, was the last supermarket chain to make the switch to chicken with 1 Better Life star as the minimum standard for its fresh chicken range. Earlier this year, other Dutch supermarket chains announced that they would offer their shoppers only fresh chicken with at least a Better Life quality mark of 1 star. Albert Heijn was the first to announce the move on 1 March.

The Better Life star

Chickens with one ‘Better Life’ star are, according to Wakker Dier, a healthier breed that grows more slowly and at a healthier pace than various other breeds. Their living conditions are also better, says the organisation, as the birds enjoy sunlight, more space and have access to the outdoors. The Better Life quality mark is an independent quality mark of the Animal Protection.

Enriching the environment for broilers using a laser device
What we see today in modern broiler production is a fast-growing broiler that is usually susceptible to leg disorders and inactivity towards market weight. Devices or strategies that improve environmental enrichment might motivate broilers for better movement and feeding, all contributing to improved welfare. Read more...

Considerations for the climate

For Boni, the last supermarket to switch to Better Life 1 Star, the decision was not an obvious one. Financial director, Frank Klören, noted that although the Better Life mark improves animal welfare, it will also impact the climate. “If the chicken lives 2 weeks longer, it will also eat, drink and poop for 2 weeks longer. That has consequences for the climate,” he said.

Investments for farmers

To produce chicken with the Better Life quality mark, broiler farmers must provide a covered outside area for the birds, which will require an investment for poultry farmers. Jan Verhoijsen, chairman of farmers organisation LTO/NOP, said poultry farmer must be able to earn back the investments in the foreseeable future. “That will ultimately have to be paid for by the consumer.”