Sainsbury's higher welfare chicken sales up 60pc

Farmer's Guardian -- DESPITE concerns over reduced consumer spending, free-range chicken sales have continued to grow on the back of high profile celebrity campaigns earlier this year.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury's has recorded a 60 per cent growth in higher welfare chicken and this week more than doubled its range to meet the growing demand.

The new poultry range will meet Freedom Food standards, and the supermarket expects sales to grow even further in the coming months.

The figures will come as a boost to celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall whose high profile campaigns in January led to the retailer committing to phasing out standard chicken and switching to Freedom Food as its minimum requirement.

Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s brand said: “When we met Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall last year we said that Sainsbury’s would do everything it could to improve chicken welfare while providing our customers with choice and good value.

“We knew that higher welfare chicken sales would go up following the Channel 4 food series in January, however we are thrilled to see that customers have continued to buy chicken reared to higher standards.

“It demonstrates the strength of feeling for animal welfare issues and that with greater availability of affordable options our customers don’t have to compromise.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “Sainsbury’s commitment to upgrade the minimum welfare standards of all their fresh chicken to the RSPCA welfare standards over the coming years will improve the lives of millions of British chickens, and this new initiative is clearly the first major step along that road. I welcome it wholeheartedly.”