Aldi took an important step at the end of the year when it became the first company in the German food retailing industry to join the European Chicken Commitment. Four more supermarkets and discounter chains have since followed suit: The Bünting group with its Famila-Nordwest, Combi and other brands as well as Globus, Norma and Tegut.
Five supermarkets lead the way
Through their voluntary commitment, the five companies are not only taking active responsibility for the living conditions of millions of chickens but also sending a clear signal to the rest of the industry: An »animal-welfare« premium range is far from the solution to the problems associated with the factory farming system. Companies that are serious about change need to work toward improving the living conditions of all chickens – for example, by joining the European Chicken Commitment.
Here are some important details you need to know: The retail companies affiliated with the »Initiative Tierwohl« (Animal Welfare Initiative) recently announced their intention to offer more products of »husbandry form« levels 3 and 4. We have our doubts, however, as to whether this will really help many animals. »Many customers will still usually go for the cheapest products, with supermarkets potentially deciding to take high-quality products off the shelves because they’re not profitable. We saw this recently with Lidl’s ‘farmer bonus’ surcharge,« says Mahi Klosterhalfen, President of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.
Less torture breeding, more space
The minimum standard that the European Chicken Commitment is seeking to establish on a large scale is designed above all to ensure healthier animals that do not suffer from their enormous growth. The members are also calling for space, light and variety in their suppliers’ stalls that exceed the minimum legal standard requirements. The initiative also aims to ban the practice of hanging birds upside down for stunning before they are killed.
Aldi, Bünting, Globus, Norma and Tegut will be implementing the new minimum standards by 2026 at the latest – and they’re in good company: More than 400 companies all over the world have undertaken to raise their animal welfare standards in the chicken fattening industry. In France, the entire food retailing industry has pledged to meet this commitment.
New standard slowly being enforced
Aldi, Bünting, Globus, Norma and Tegut are currently leading the way in the German food retailing industry. The members of the Chicken Commitment already include some big names among caterers, hotel chains, culinary establishments and manufacturers, but growing support in the retailing industry could be what the scheme needs to achieve that ultimate, all-important breakthrough and motivate other producers to raise their standards for chickens raised for meat. Aldi has already played a pioneering role in the industry-wide discontinuation of cage eggs.
We are engaged in ongoing dialogue with other food retailing companies. Currently, we and other organizations are focusing our attention specifically on the Rewe Group (which includes Rewe and Penny). As Germany’s second-biggest food retailer, Rewe enjoys a unique position as a role model and we want to see it live up to its commitment to sustainability. On May 18, we publicly called on Rewe to join the Chicken Commitment.