The producer plans to have all of its suppliers under one standard and, by 2026, is aiming to have all Nestlé food products in Europe that use chicken as an ingredient moved to one higher standard for welfare as per the requirements set out in the European Broiler Ask. This announcement builds on a pledge on broiler welfare made by Nestlé in the US last year and the company’s decision to source cage-free eggs only on a global basis by 2025.
Nestlé uses around 10,000 tonnes of poultry meat in Europe per year.
The plans will be rolled out in a phased approach, with the first phase tackling issues such as access to natural light and perches, and lower stocking densities. Nestlé said that while this would drive additional costs for suppliers, it would create the opportunity for longer-term deals.
Its chilled meat brand Herta will make changes in its sourcing of chicken, starting 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.
A Nestlé spokesperson said it would cut suppliers that did not meet the standards it set out, but support them as much as possible. “Our approach is generally to accompany suppliers along the process and to support them. Our focus is on doing this progressively and bringing our suppliers along with us.
”Nestlé Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa CEO Marco Settembri 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, including our Herta, Buitoni, Wagner and Maggi ranges.”
Martin Cooke, international head of corporate engagement for World Animal Protection welcomed the pledge. “This commitment by Nestlé will be hugely beneficial to the welfare of chickens across Europe, and builds on the similar commitment Nestlé has already made in the USA. World Animal Protection has worked with Nestlé for a number of years to improve the lives of animals in its supply chains around the world. We are delighted that they have committed to making a better life for chickens. 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.”
European Broiler Ask commitments
- Comply with all EU animal welfare laws and regulations, regardless of the country of production.
- Implement a maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2 or less. Thinning is discouraged and if practiced must be limited to one thin per flock.
- Adopt breeds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes: either the following breeds, Hubbard JA757, 787, 957, or 987, Rambler Ranger, Ranger Classic, and Ranger Gold, or others that meet the criteria of the RSPCA Broiler Breed Welfare Assessment Protocol.
- Meet improved environmental standards including:
- At least 50 lux of light, including natural light.
- At least two metres of usable perch space, and two pecking substrates, per 1,000 birds.
- On air quality, at least the requirements of Annex 2.3 of the EU broiler directive, regardless of stocking density.
- No cages or multi-tier systems.
- Adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.
- Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing and annual public reporting on progress towards this commitment.