Whole Foods and GAP support slower-growing chickens

by Bob Sims
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AUSTIN, Tex.- Whole Foods Market will support a commitment to slower-growing breeds of chickens and better living conditions by 2024 within the 5-Step Rating Global Animal Partnership (GAP). GAP will replace 100 percent of its fast-growing breeds with slower growing breeds under its comprehensive farm animal standards.

The new standard will require less crowding (stocking density of 6 lb./sq ft. or less, 25 percent more space than conventional), natural light (conventional birds are kept in dimly lit sheds with no access to sunshine) and improved enrichment such as straw bales & perches (denied to conventional birds). Chickens under the standards will grow 23 percent slower than conventional chickens.

The commitment will positively impact the lives of 277 million chickens. To date, it is one of the most pioneering corporate announcements in the US for improving farm animal life.  

Whole Foods Market and GAP’s commitment is nothing short of historical given the sheer number of animals’ lives that will be improved- 277 million chickens.

"For decades, the industry’s focus has been on producing a chicken as big, as fast and as cheap as possible,” said Leah Garces, US Director of Compassion in World Farming and Global Animal Partnership board member. “But there have been disastrous unintended consequences for the birds – lameness, heart conditions and immune function problems, to name a few.  It’s high time we give chickens a life worth living.”

In recent policies, major companies such as Starbucks, Compass, Nestle and Aramark have called out for the need to improve the welfare of chickens and the problems related to fast-growing birds. This announcement marks the first firm, definite policy to achieve that in the US.

“At GAP, our goal is to improve the welfare of farm animals,” said Anne Malleau, Executive Director of Global Animal Partnership, “By addressing the fast growth, we will be getting to the root of the welfare problem facing chickens today. Implementing this transition will require significant work, but we are confident we can get there.”  

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