The Better Chicken Commitment is an unfunded mandate for the poultry industry. Its push to switch broiler genetics to slower growing breeds, and other actions, will challenge the industry and potentially set up unavoidable difficulties for all broiler producers.
In 2026, broiler industry profitability may suffer due to a widespread breed switch enforced by the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC.) The BCC is a group founded by the Humane Society of the United States and nine other animal activist organizations. Major companies like Nestle S.A., Restaurant Brands International Inc., Unilever PLC, Sodexo, Compass Group PLC, Subway and Starbucks Corp. already signed onto the pledge.
Currently, the BCC will require its adherents to only buy chicken from suppliers raising a slower growing breed. The BCC requires additional welfare upgrades in the house and controlled atmosphere (CAS) stunning before slaughter.
Slower growing birds aren’t as efficient as the standard bird. That is an enormous problem in an industry with thin profit margins.
The success of the U.S. poultry industry is in large part due to the relatively low cost and high speed of getting the birds from the egg to the fridge. Every small loss in productivity exponentially affects integrators and growers.
Breeders are putting great effort into birds growers can work with in the field, but a breed switch could be challenging for growers and technical advisors alike. Longer growout times will mean less flocks can be produced using the same facilities and utilities. This will mean less money per year unless that meat is sold at a premium to cover the cost.
The integrator is also forced to provide more feed to produce the same amount of meat. Due to longer growing cycles, there will also be a need for more farms to meet demand for chicken.
Consumers pay the price
To cover these higher costs, a significantly higher price must be charged to consumers. Otherwise, the industry cannot maintain profitability using a bird that is not as efficient as the one it was using before. Raising the price of chicken reduces its advantageous low cost compared to other proteins.
The broiler industry is not facing this serious problem due to widespread consumer demand for slower growing chicken. It is switching because of the BCC. Joining the BCC is voluntary, but a chicken company doesn’t necessarily decide if its customer signs onto the pledge.
At its core, the BCC is an unfunded mandate. It is not a governmental action. However, it commands an industry producing nearly a billion pounds of poultry meat a week to do something that will affect its expenses and profitability without providing anything to cover the costs.