BRUSSELS—The first-ever evaluation of chicken welfare among 16 fast-food brands in Poland and Romania reveals that the fast-food industry in Eastern Europe is taking its first steps towards increasing the welfare of chickens used for meat. The 2023 Pecking Order reports for Poland and Romania, which were conducted by Humane Society International/Europe, evaluate prominent fast-food companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway as well as local chains including Romanian 5 to go and Polish Zahir Kebab concerning their time-bound commitments and performance-reporting on broiler chicken welfare in their supply chains. The assessment centers on indicators such as the living space allocated for each chicken, the chicken breeds employed, the use of cages, the provision of enrichments for natural behavior display, and the methods used for their slaughter.
Poland and Romania are among the most important players in Europe’s broiler chicken industry, supplying both domestic and international markets with chicken meat products. In 2021, Poland was the largest EU producer with about 1.12 billion chickens raised and killed, whereas Romania ranked 8th with 271.7 million chickens.
The assessments included 12 fast-food brands for each country. In both Poland and Romania, it covered Burger King, Domino’s, IKEA, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Subway. In Poland, Pasibus, Salad Story, Vapiano and Zehir Kebab were also reviewed, while in Romania the evaluation included 5 to go, PAUL, Salad Box and Spartan. The Pecking Order report’s overall results highlight that while some companies have taken steps and published their commitments to improve broiler chicken welfare, most have yet to start. Many international fast-food chains rely on their parent companies’ chicken welfare policies without declaring them on their local websites, while national fast-food chains have not introduced these welfare policies at all.
In both countries, Subway emerges as the leader among the assessed companies with an overall score of 57% on managing and reporting on broiler chicken welfare. In Poland, Subway is followed by IKEA with 50% and Pizza Hut and Vapiano with 47%. McDonald’s and KFC received low scores of 11% and 2%, respectively, while Burger King, Domino’s, Pasibus, Salad Story, Starbucks and Zahir Kebab scored 0%. In Romania, Subway is followed by IKEA, PAUL and Pizza Hut with a score of 47%. On the flip side, KFC, 5 to go, Burger King, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Salad Box, Spartan and Starbucks received very low scores, between 2% and 0%. In Poland, as well as in Romania, Subway is the only chain that received a non-zero score in performance reporting.
Elise Allart, corporate engagement director for HSI/Europe, says: “The vast number of animal lives impacted by the chicken industry demands that it actively champion higher standards of animal welfare. The Pecking Order doesn’t just assess the status quo; it provides actionable solutions. It’s a powerful tool for fast-food companies seeking to enhance chicken welfare and adhere to the European Chicken Commitment. We invite collaboration and prompt action to improve animal welfare in supply chains, making businesses future-proof in line with increasing consumer demands and forthcoming legislation.”
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Facts on The Pecking Order
- The 2023 edition of The Pecking Order is a project by World Animal Protection, together with Humane Society International, the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung, L214 and Essere Animali. A total of 69 companies were assessed covering the markets of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Spain.
- The Pecking Order is an initiative dedicated to assessing broiler chicken welfare in the fast-food industry, by evaluating the companies’ commitment to address chicken welfare throughout their supply chains, the measures they take and how they implement the requirements recommended in the European Chicken Commitment (ECC). The Pecking Order has been assessing fast-food brands since 2019. In 2023, six European markets were assessed, and Poland and Romania were included for the first time. The report offers a general presentation of the broiler chicken welfare situation in the Polish and Romanian fast-food industry and describes opportunities for improvement.
- Chicken welfare management across countries varies. The German and French fast-food companies have the highest average overall scores of the assessed countries, demonstrating more commitments and implementation. Polish and Romanian chains have the lowest scores, indicating that there is substantial progress needed within the countries’ fast-food industries concerning chicken welfare.
- Some fast-food chains are doing better than others in publishing their commitments and targets for chicken welfare. For Poland, IKEA stands out with a score of 100%, demonstrating a firm commitment to chicken welfare. The data also reveals that Subway, Pizza Hut and Vapiano have acknowledged the need to improve chicken welfare, each scoring a high 94%, positioning them as leaders in this aspect. On the opposite end of the spectrum, McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Domino’s, Starbucks, Pasibus, Salad Story and Zahir Kebab exhibit a lack of commitment with scores of 21% (McDonald’s), 3% (KFC) and 0% (the rest). Regarding commitments and targets in Romania, Subway, IKEA, PAUL and Pizza Hut have conceded the need for higher welfare standards for broiler chicken. Each of the companies gathers a percentage of 94%. On the other hand KFC, Burger King, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, 5 to go, Salad Box and Spartan show a lack of commitment, with scores between 3% (KFC) and 0% (other companies).
- In respect to performance and progress reporting, in both Poland and Romania, Subway is the only chain that received a non-zero score. All other assessed companies received a score of 0%. These companies did not publish any information on their websites. This indicates a significant lack of action and transparency. Without progress reporting, the public is left to assume that these companies are doing nothing to eliminate the cruelty happening to chickens in the supply chain.
Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international media relations coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org