Nestlé pledges improved chicken welfare across Buitoni, Wagner and Maggi brands


02 Jul 2018 --- Nestlé is pushing up animal welfare standards for millions of chickens used in its food products across Europe as part of a broader initiative to use traceable and responsibly-sourced ingredients. The food giant will work with supply chain partners and stakeholders to improve living conditions for chickens, ensure the use of more humane practices and reduce stocking density.

And by 2026, Nestlé aims to ensure all its food products in Europe that use chicken as an ingredient will move to a higher standard of welfare, in line with the requirements that are set out in the European Broiler Ask – the Better Chicken Commitment. 

By working with suppliers and stakeholders to assess how chicken ingredients are sourced for its Buitoni, Wagner and Maggi brands, Nestlé wants the entire food portfolio to meet higher welfare standards while keeping those products high-quality and affordable. 

The move comes at a time of changing consumer preferences, a greater awareness of where food comes from and how it is made. A large part of this involves consumers demanding companies use ethical approaches to animal welfare. 

“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,” says Nestlé Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa CEO Marco Settembri.

Starting next January, the chilled meat brand Herta will change the way it sources chicken as part of the long-term transition to achieve higher welfare standards and these products will be available under the existing Herta “Preference” mark in France. 

Nestlé pledge builds on its previous commitment to broiler welfare made last year in the US when the company decided to source cage-free eggs only on a global basis by 2025.

Nestlé’s, meat, poultry and eggs 
These are purchased from suppliers all over the world and Nestlé buys processed meat in the form of cooked and dehydrated products, oils and powers as well as unprocessed cooked, frozen and fresh meat which is used in a range of its food and pet food products. 

Eggs are predominantly used for mayonnaise, pasta and pastry, while meat and poultry are mostly used for ready-made and frozen meals. In 2017, Nestlé used around two million tons of meat, poultry and eggs.

The food giant’s data shows that 20.2 percent of total meat, poultry and eggs purchases last year were responsibly-sourced, while 26.8 percent was traceable to the source and 100 percent of eggs in Nestlé’s food products will be from cage-free hens by 2020. 

What does Nestlé do now and how will it improve?
Using its Responsible Sourcing Assessment protocol which was developed in conjunction with the non-profit organization World Animal Protection, Nestlé assesses practices at a farm level. The requirements include challenges like breeding, feeding, housing, husbandry, health, transport and slaughtering.

Since Nestlé began its program, there have been more than 1,336 farm assessments in 21 countries. 

However, these assessments have identified areas for improvements such as chemical storage and animal welfare. Nestlé says it’s working with farmers to implement remedial actions at the farm level gradually.

Nestlé says the main challenges identified in its meat, poultry and eggs supply chain relate to poor farming practices across a range of areas and animal welfare.

Animal welfare – poultry
Nestlé has now made three major poultry welfare pledges:
– To purchase only cage-free eggs for all food products globally by 2025 and by 2020 in Europe and the US.
– A commitment to higher welfare standards for broiler chickens (chickens raised for meat, rather than egg, production) in the US by 2024, including slower growth rates, better leg health and improved environments in line with Global Animal Partnership standards.
– Nestlé is committed to higher welfare standards for broiler chickens in Europe by 2026, in line with the requirements of the European Broiler Ask/Better Chicken Commitment.

The European Broiler Ask/Better Chicken Commitment require that 100 percent of the chicken used in Nestlé food products must (by 2026):
– 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 meters of usable perch space and two pecking substrates, per 1,000 birds.
– No cages or multi-tier systems.
– Adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using an inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.
– Demonstrate compliance with all the standards via third-party auditing and annual public reporting on progress towards this commitment.                               

“Nestlé’s announcement to take their cage-free egg commitment worldwide and to improve the welfare of broiler chickens in Europe by signing up to the 2026 Better Chicken Commitment highlights the company’s ambition for continuous improvement for farm animal welfare,” says Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming.

“Their commitments have the potential to improve the lives of millions of farm animals in their supply chain and we will continue to work with Nestlé to ensure the effective implementation of these commitments.”    

Nestlé pledge applies to the whole of Nestlé’s Europe, the Middle East and North Africa Zone – including all countries subject to EU legislation.

By Gaynor Selby

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