NGO World Animal Protection has called on KFC Australia to take note of a recent survey showing the group that consumes chicken most often is also the most demanding of the birds' welfare.
KFC businesses in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium have all signed the 'Better Chicken Commitment', along with major brands in Europe including Nestlé, Unilever, Danone, Sodexo and a range of supermarkets.
World Animal Protection has today called on KFC Australia to follow its counterparts' lead and sign the agreement, especially after research from Pure Profile found 72 per cent of Millennials eat chicken twice a week and 56 per cent make an active effort to research and buy high welfare chicken.
Millennials are also the most inclined to pay more for high welfare chicken, with 62 per cent saying they would pay up to an extra half, and a further 12 per cent willing to pay double the amount.
World Animal Protection believes the research shows demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of chickens presents a business opportunity for supermarkets and fast-food outlets to capture the next generation, conscious consumer.
"It's encouraging to see Millennials are conscious of welfare when shopping for chicken and are willing to pay more for higher welfare products," says World Animal Protection head of campaigns Ben Pearson.
"Policies like The Better Chicken Commitment can take years to fully implement, so it's important companies start committing to better conditions today.
"By the time these younger shoppers are more frequently purchasing chicken, due to factors such as a growing family or being financially independent, they will put their dollar behind the companies aligning with high welfare."
The Better Chicken Commitment in Europe is expected to come into effect by 2026.
KFC in the UK highlights six goals for farms and suppliers to meet to help transform chickens' lives for the better, including a maximum stocking density, providing certain levels of light and a minimum level of perch space per bird, eliminating cages or multi-tier systems, and selecting breeds that have higher welfare outcomes.
The agreement also involves adopting controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.
The restaurant chain says the move means "creating even more space (to run around) in our barns, moving towards slower-growing breeds, introducing more natural features such as hay and pecking objects, and even stricter auditing processes".
"But we're not stopping there. We want others in the industry to do the same and are calling them to sign up too," says KFC UK.
"While we'd love to be able to do it all on our own, it's hard for us to have full control as we don't own the farms we buy from and only represent about 4 per cent of the UK chicken market.
"So even though we might be the kings of fried chicken, we're only a small part of the jigsaw compared to our industry peers collectively."
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