Ethical chicken is cheaper than a Cadbury’s Creme Egg

Ethical chicken is cheaper than a Cadbury’s Creme Egg

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In a new survey published by RSPCA Assured today, 86% of shoppers say all the chickens we eat should be farmed to ethical animal welfare standards.

But, whilst the trend for ethical purchasing is growing, the reality is only a small minority of chickens produced in the UK come from farms meeting acceptable welfare standards, according to RSPCA Assured.

Delving deeper into the disparity between what people want and what they are getting, the survey revealed price is the biggest barrier preventing shoppers from choosing ethical chicken with 28% saying it’s too expensive.

But whilst the price of ethical chicken is cited as the main reason people are not choosing it, and opting for cheaper alternatives, the cost might not be as bad as people think.


RSPCA farm animal welfare scientist Sophie Elwes said: “Ethical chicken does cost a bit more. But when you think an RSPCA Assured chicken is over two times cheaper - gram for gram - than a Cadbury’s Creme Egg or is about the same price as two high street coffees, it sounds much more affordable and a small price to pay for better welfare.”

The second biggest barrier to more people buying ethical chicken is confusion over claims made on packaging, which can mislead people into thinking the chicken they are buying is higher welfare when it is not.  

Elwes continues: “Chicken labels are a minefield.  There are so many different brands and descriptions to scan through on supermarket shelves and not enough time for busy shoppers to do it. So it’s no wonder people are confused about what they are buying.  But people shouldn’t be fooled by


“We’re known as a nation of animal lovers but most of the chickens we eat don’t have enough space to move around freely. They also grow so fast they become dangerously heavy for their age, with many struggling to walk properly and suffering from heart problems.”  

Sophie Elwes, RSPCA

dubious farm descriptions and clever packaging.  Concerned consumers should only buy chicken that’s labelled RSPCA Assured, free range or organic.”

 What is wrong with the way most chickens produced in the UK are farmed?

 The vast majority of chickens farmed for meat are kept in conditions which we don’t believe meet all of their needs. For example they:

  • Don’t have enough space to move around freely -  in fact they are given less space per bird than an egg-laying caged hen
  • Are bred to grow so fast that they can struggle to walk around properly and can develop heart failure
  • Are given very little to do and nothing to peck at and perch on
  • Don’t have to be given any natural light

Why is RSPCA Assured labelled chicken better?

  • RSPCA welfare standards for chickens - used by RSPCA Assured farmers - cover their entire lives from hatching to slaughter, including when being transported
  • Fast growing breeds are not allowed. Only higher welfare breeds are used
  • Chickens can be free range or kept indoors with plenty of space to move around and flap their wings
  • They are given  perches and things to peck at such as straw bales and vegetables
  • All buildings must have windows to give the birds natural light

The price of RSPCA Assured chicken (correct April 2017):

Sainsbury’s: RSPCA Assured, corn fed, free 

range chicken £4.50/kg Aldi: RSPCA Assured free range chicken £3.29/kg

Notes to editors:

  • The research was carried out by Real time Surveys, powered by Gorkana Surveys, amongst 1,000 adults on the 21 December 2016
  • RSPCA Assured is the only UK farm assurance and food labelling scheme solely dedicated to improving farm animal welfare.
  • There are currently about 42 million terrestrial farm animals - plus many millions of salmon and trout - being farmed under the RSPCA Assured scheme
  • RSPCA welfare standards cover all aspects of an animal’s life including on farm, in transport and at the abattoir.  RSPCA standards must also be met by the processor and packer
  • Traceability checks are carried out on RSPCA Assured products from supermarket shelf back to farm to check they truly qualify for the RSPCA Assured label
  • All RSPCA Assured members - including farms, processors, packers, hauliers and abattoirs - are subject to annual assessments by scheme assessors and monitoring visits are carried out by RSPCA farm livestock officers on a proportion of the membership annually.


If you are a journalist and would like more information, please contact:

Rebecca Lenik, media relations manager

01403 821752

Carole Stewart

07770 881578

RSPCA press office

0300 123 0244

Date: 14 Apr 2017