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Demand for ethical chicken not being met

Production of chickens farmed to high welfare standards is not keeping pace with demand for ethical meat, according to new research.

The survey from RSPCA Assured found that despite 86% of consumers saying chicken should be produced ethically, in reality only a small proportion of chickens produced in the UK currently meet what the organisation considers acceptable welfare standards.

The charity’s own standard has requirements that cover a chicken’s health, diet, environment and care, which must be met for products to carry the RSPCA Assured label.

The survey revealed that price is the biggest barrier preventing shoppers from choosing ethical chicken with 28% saying it’s too expensive, despite the fact that an RSPCA Assured chicken costs less than half, gram for gram, than a Cadbury Crème Egg, the charity noted.

The second biggest barrier to more people buying ethical chicken is confusion over claims made on packaging, which RSPCA Assured claimed can mislead people into thinking the chicken they are buying is higher welfare when it is not.

“Chicken labels are a minefield,” said RSPCA farm animal welfare scientist, Sophie Elwes. “There are so many different brands and descriptions to scan through on supermarket shelves and not enough time for busy shoppers to do it, so it’s no wonder people are confused about what they are buying.”