Thursday, June 16, 2022
In August 2021, Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay were the first Belgian retailers to commit to making the transfer to broiler chickens that meet the higher animal welfare criteria based on the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC). Today, Colruyt and OKay start with the sale of the first products of chickens that meet several of these criteria. This is an important step towards making the commitment of the retailer for more animal welfare for broiler chickens concrete. Moreover, this will allow the consumer to make a sustainable choice more easily.
First products of welfare chickens
On 16 August 2021, Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay were the first Belgian retailers to announce the transfer to chickens that meet the Better Chicken Commitment criteria for their standard chickens. BCC stands for higher and stricter criteria in the field of animal welfare and was launched by different NGOs that work to improve animal welfare in Europe. The announcement of Colruyt and OKay was the starting shot for the replacement of the current standard chicken by a new welfare chicken, an important step towards more animal welfare for broiler chickens in Belgium.
Today, the first products of the new chickens are on the shelves of Colruyt and OKay. It concerns chickens of a slower growing race approved by the European Chicken Commitment. The chickens live longer (from 42 to 50 days) and have 40% more space. Also, the chickens are given perches and pecking substrates (grains, straw bales). In this way, the natural behaviour of the chickens is stimulated. The chickens are 100% Belgian.
Guy Elewaut, Marketing Director at Colruyt Lowest Prices: "The offering of the first products of chickens that meet the different BCC criteria is an important next step. That way, we make it easier for our customers to make a sustainable choice in the field of animal welfare." Specifically, as of today, there are three products on the Colruyt shelves: chicken fillet, tenderloins and drumsticks. At OKay, two more products are added to that: chicken legs and wings. The products are recognisable by a sticker on the packaging.
Step by step to 2026
Animal welfare is high up on the agenda of Colruyt Group and is one of the pillars of the sustainability policy. In the past years, Colruyt Group has already taken several initiatives to improve the welfare of animals. For example, the retailer was the first to no longer sell eggs from battery cages and to prohibit the castration of piglets. Rabbit meat originates from animals from an animal-friendly park system. And in the slaughterhouses, measures were taken to ensure that the slaughtering process is better controlled and causes as little stress and pain as possible.
Being the first Belgian retailer to commit to switching to broiler chickens that meet the BCC criteria was therefore a logical step. Guy Elewaut: "For us, the objective is clear: treating animals respectfully throughout the whole chain. This is a process to which we commit ourselves, step by step. First of all, with our suppliers and then with the whole sector and the competent authorities."
Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay work with 230 Belgian chicken farms. Guy Elewaut: "For our suppliers it is not always evident to adjust their production methods to the new criteria. Some elements are easy to implement, for instance the placement of extra straw bales in the broiler houses. Others ask for more investments and time, for example providing daylight in the barn. That is why we handle it step by step and guide our partners in the sustainability process. Today, we are satisfied that we have already made a giant leap forward here."
As of 2026, the standard chicken on sale in the butcher's and frozen food departments (Boni Selection) of Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay meets the strict criteria of the Better Chicken Commitment. Moreover, Colruyt and OKay will go even further than the BCC standards by allowing chicks to be born directly in the barns.