Media Release: Leading Food Brands Fly Towards Higher Welfare for Chickens

New Zealand’s first café business to have reached SPCA Certified standards for eggs, The Coffee Club, is demanding better welfare for chickens bred for meat in New Zealand.

The Coffee Club, together with chicken restaurant chain Bird On A Wire, are the latest big names to sign the Australia-New Zealand Better Chicken Commitment. Led in New Zealand by advocacy charity Animals Aotearoa, the global policy initiative lays out strict, science-based welfare standards for chickens bred for meat; standards which far exceed those currently set by the New Zealand government.

SPCA’s Scientific Officer for farmed animals, Marie McAninch, says the charity welcomes this news from The Coffee Club, who has been a proud supporter of SPCA New Zealand since 2017.

“We’re delighted that one of our event sponsors and the first café to reach SPCA Certified standards for eggs, The Coffee Club, is making this move to improve the quality of life for chickens,” says McAninch.

“Many people don’t know that the welfare of conventional chicken breeds can deteriorate quickly because of their breed and fast speed of growth, and they can suffer from painful conditions such as lameness and cardiovascular problems. SPCA strongly advocates for the introduction of slower-growing, healthier breeds of chicken into New Zealand.”

New Zealand farming practices are lagging behind foreign markets where the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) standards are already established across Europe and North America. The Coffee Club and Bird On A Wire are proudly the most recent brands adopting the BCC standards as the inevitable next step in improved welfare for chickens.

“As a brand committed to the highest animal welfare standards, we are thrilled to support the Better Chicken Commitment,” says Andy Lucas, Co-Director of both The Coffee Club and Bird on a Wire. “We understand the importance of responsible corporate practices and know that our customers expect only the best from us. Embracing the BCC standards aligns perfectly with our values.”

The latest animal welfare science is clear, the use of healthier chicken breeds that grow more naturally, means chickens have better lives.  As well as requiring healthier breeds, the BCC provides birds with environmental enrichments including more space, natural light and perches to rest on. 

The Australia-New Zealand Better Chicken Commitment is backed by 15 animal organisations including the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Aotearoa (VAWA), Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.

Animals Aotearoa Executive Director, Marianne Macdonald, applauds The Coffee Club and Bird On A Wire for acting with true corporate responsibility.

“Both companies already offer free-range chicken, but acknowledge more can be done to address the significant welfare issues present in the current breeds. These breeds are commonly known as ‘Frankenchickens’ because of their unnatural, rapid growth.” 

“By supporting Better Chicken Commitment standards, these businesses are showcasing real leadership in the food service sector and demonstrating their dedication to better animal welfare practices, raising the bar in New Zealand,” says Macdonald.

The Coffee Club, an internationally established brand, currently operates 63 cafés nationwide, from Warkworth to Invercargill. Bird On A Wire, a rapidly expanding restaurant name, has five eateries including a recently opened premises outside Auckland, extending its reach across the country.

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