Largest coffee company and another restaurant brand sign the BCC, as café industry ranking report released

New Zealanders care about animal welfare and expect food brands to do the same. That’s why we’re celebrating more great news for chickens, as more brands get on board with the much higher animal welfare standards of the Better Chicken Commitment.

This week we’re proud to announce that after working with Animals Aotearoa, Columbus Coffee and Mexico Restaurant have signed the Better Chicken Commitment.

Two major coffee chains top latest report from Animals Aotearoa.

The largest dedicated coffee chain in Aotearoa, Columbus Coffee is following The Coffee Club’s lead in committing to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC). This means the two largest café chains are now on board.  This comes right on the release of a new industry ranking report, rating popular café chains on their corporate responsibility for animal welfare. It reveals which are committing to lifting their supply chain standards for chickens bred for meat and, importantly, which are not.

Which cafés have the best chicken welfare?

The Unfiltered Truth ranks ten of the most well-known New Zealand café chains on their chicken welfare. Columbus Coffee and The Coffee Club are two giants in the Kiwi café scene. Both top the report as “BCC-Leaders – Signed the BCC”, with the most progressive chicken welfare policy. Columbus Coffee has 75 café locations, many inside Mitre 10s, and The Coffee Club has 65 outlets across the country. Café Brands who owns Columbus, also owns the restaurant brand Mexico, with 8 locations.

“Our franchisees within the Columbus Coffee and Mexico Restaurant brands have established strong connections within their local communities and share an appreciation for the importance of ethical business practices. Embracing the Better Chicken Commitment initiative both at a local and national level, was something we all felt we needed to do.”

“By integrating these standards into our operations and throughout our franchise network, we are not only addressing the evolving expectations from our customers, but also taking steps towards a more humane and sustainable food production industry, which we as consumers all benefit from.”

Jon Hassall, Chief Operating Officer, Café Brands.

Who will be next to sign the Better Chicken Commitment?

Big names like Robert Harris and Coffee Culture are currently rated positively in the report, categorised as “BCC- Friendly – Not yet signed the BCC but engaging in active discussion”. Brands trailing behind with the worst chicken welfare policy include Hollywood Espresso Bakery and Starbucks. 

Starbucks’ failure to sign so far has been highlighted in the ranking report as a double standard, considering overseas Starbucks has signed the BCC in The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, but not yet in New Zealand. Starbucks and others’ inaction is an endorsement of poor welfare chicken farming practices.

What is The Better Chicken Commitment? 

The Australia-New Zealand Better Chicken Commitment is led in New Zealand by 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. It 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. All organisations are united in calling for meaningful change to chicken genetics. 

The latest animal welfare science backs up what is already established – the use of healthier chicken breeds is the essential step to improving the lives of chickens. The current breeds reared for meat in Aotearoa are genetically selected to grow abnormally fast, so quickly that many chickens suffer chronic pain and have trouble even walking. As well as requiring healthier breeds as the key improvement, the BCC provides birds with environmental enrichments including more space, natural light and perches to rest on. 

How does New Zealand get there?

In order to keep pace with global improved welfare trends where the BCC is already established, the chicken industry here, dominated by Tegel and Ingham’s, needs a push from their customers – the food businesses – to improve the genetics of their birds in line with the Better Chicken Commitment. Every major food brand that adopts BCC policy, signals demand to their supplier for this welfare improvement. 

“In this chicken and egg situation, it’s demonstrated demand for healthier, more naturally growing breeds that comes first.”

“Brands like Starbucks need to stop dragging the chain and act in line with what Kiwis want. A recent Horizon poll found 90% of people think it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals in New Zealand, yet currently, Starbucks seem happy to sell cruelty with its coffee.”

Animals Aotearoa Executive Director, Marianne Macdonald. 

How can I help?

Join our digital action network (the A-team) to be a voice for chickens and help us take a stand against suffering with quick and easy online actions. One food brand (or in this case two) at a time, let’s change the way the chicken industry treats chooks and improve the lives of these birds. 

Leave a Reply