Nestlé USA has become the latest company to commit to sourcing its broilers from suppliers who adhere to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards, as well as other criteria aimed at improving poultry welfare. The company's new broiler welfare pledge will involve all chickens raised for meat as ingredients in its products produced in the United States.
As part of its new broiler welfare policy, announced on October 12, Nestlé has committed to working with its U.S. suppliers to:
- Transition to breeds of chicken recognized as having improved welfare outcomes, including slower growth rates and better leg health, as approved by the GAP
- Reduce stocking density to a maximum of 6 lbs./sq. foot.
- Improve the environment in which broiler chickens are kept in line with the new GAP standard, including access to natural light, improved litter, and enriched surroundings to help allow expression of natural behavior.
- Ensure broiler chickens are processed in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling, and instead use multi-step controlled atmospheric system that produces an irreversible stun.
- Show compliance with these standards through third-party audits and to report on progress.
All of the criteria is expected to be met by 2024.
Paul Grimwood, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA commented, “We want to help bring about positive change at every level of our supply chain―from our direct suppliers all the way back to the farms. We have already pledged that by 2020 all of the eggs we source as ingredients for our food products in the U.S. will come from cage-free hens. Today, we are taking the next step in that journey to help push for higher standards of welfare for broiler chickens.”
Nestlé brands that would be impacted by the broiler welfare pledge include Hot Pockets, DiGiorno, Stouffer's, Lean Cuisine, Tombstone, Lean Pockets, Jack's, California Pizza Kitchen and Buitoni.
This is a complex undertaking, the company stated, adding that such changes require investment and time, and the transition over the next seven years must be done in a sustainable and cost-effective way.