Whole Foods Market (WFM) is committing to slower-growing breeds and better living conditions for chickens by 2024. 

Whole Foods will meet this commitment within the 5-Step Rating Global Animal Partnership (GAP), creator of North America’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare standards. GAP also agreed to replacing all fast-growing breeds with slower growth breeds, and to giving all chickens natural light, more space, and enrichment as a minimum. The commitment applies to more than 600 GAP-rated farms and 277 million chickens.

“WFM and GAP’s pioneering commitment is nothing short of historical given the sheer number of animals’ lives that will be improved- some 277 million chickens are under GAP's care,” said Leah Garces, U.S. Director of Compassion in World Farming and Global Animal Partnership board member.

The commitment by WFM and GAP aims to dramatically improve chicken welfare and specifically address the many issues resulting from fast-growing breeds and the conditions they are raised in by:

  • Lowering maximum stocking density: equal to or less than 6 lb/sq ft, or around 25 percent more space than conventional chickens
  • Requiring slower-growing birds: genetic potential growth rate equal to or less than 50g per day averaged over the growth cycle, or around 23 percent slower growth than conventional chickens
  •  Improving existing enrichment provisions to include natural light and straw bales, perches, and pecking substrates

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“At GAP, our goal is to improve the welfare of farm animals,” said Anne Malleau, executive director of Global Animal Partnership, “Implementing this transition will require significant work, but we are confident we can get there.”

WFM and GAPs commitment follows major companies including Starbucks, Compass, Nestle and Aramark calling out in recent policies the need to address welfare problems related to fast-growing breeds of chickens.

GAP’s announcement marks the first firm and specific such announcement on how to achieve that in the United States.

Compassion in World Farming has worked with WFM and GAP for nearly a decade.