Waitrose & Partners has confirmed that it has signed up to the European Chicken Commitment (ECC) to strengthen what it describes as its ‘already award-winning standards.’

This represents an industry leading pledge to only sell meat from slower growing breeds with the best welfare credentials.

The company say that this commitment will ensure that by 2026, Waitrose & Partners will be fully compliant with the very highest welfare standards championed by welfare organisations, including Compassion in World Farming (CiWF), Waitrose’s signature partner for its pledge commitment.

By the time of implementation, the move is expected to benefit around 43,000,000 birds per year. It will also mean that every piece of chicken purchased in a Waitrose & Partners store, including fresh, frozen and ingredient chicken in own brand products, will comply with the new standards.

Other requirements of the pledge, including improved stocking densities, access to natural daylight, perches and pecking substrates, and improved air quality, along with controlled atmosphere stunning, third-party auditing and discouragement of thinning, are all measures that Waitrose & Partners and its farmers already have in place.

Working in collaboration with its long term poultry supplier and research partner Moy Park, together with leading academic institutions and CiWF, Waitrose & Partners say it will continue to develop the new standards to ensure their success before implementing widely to the benefit of farmers and customers, and the welfare of chickens reared in the UK.

Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager at Waitrose & Partners, commented: “We have an unrivalled pedigree of good animal welfare practices and this is something our customers expect to help future proof our standards.

“The majority of the standards outlined in this new commitment are already in place across our business, which puts us in a great starting position compared with many of our competitors. We will now identify the best breeds to comply with these standards and will continue to deliver products that have been sourced responsibly and without compromising on taste.”

Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming welcomed the announcement: “We are delighted that Waitrose has joined the ranks of other leading food companies signing up to the European Chicken Commitment. This really highlights their culture of continuous improvement in farm animal welfare and has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of chickens. We look forward to working with Waitrose to help them deliver on this commitment.”

Waitrose & Partners Commercial Director Rupert Thomas said: “Along with our farmers and suppliers, we are committed to making the very best standards of farm animal welfare mainstream. We believe that compassionate farming and good business go hand in hand and that’s why we are especially proud to add our name to the 2026 European Chicken Commitment Pledge. We already have significant research under way in conjunction with our suppliers and leading academic bodies and we look forward to playing our part in improving the welfare of broiler chickens.”

Philip Lymbery CEO of Compassion in World Farming added: “We wholeheartedly welcome Waitrose and Partners in joining the European Chicken Commitment. This is another development in their ongoing commitment to higher animal welfare policies and performance.”