Britain’s largest supermarket chain yesterday cut the price of whole ‘standard’ chickens by 60% to just £1.99, in a move that critics argue will impede improvements to the welfare of factory-farmed birds.
Tesco announced that the promotion would be offered until next Sunday as a way of assisting struggling, low-income families. However, while a family of four can now eat a roast dinner for just 99p per person, the price cuts will bring considerable financial pressure to the poultry industry.
Farmers, currently making just 2p per chicken in profit, will be pushed to the limit by the £1.99 price which has been deemed unrealistic by advocacy groups.
Animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) is encouraging Tesco to look at price reduction of higher-welfare chicken rather than focusing on competition at the bottom end of the market.
CIWF stated that the arrival of the £1.99 bird is ‘depressing’, as it follows a month of awareness-raising and significant increases in free-range chicken sales in Britain.
This has transpired following the recent screening of Hugh’s Chicken Run, a television series that compares the cramped, painful lives of the nation’s 800 million broiler chickens to their free-range counterparts.
Tesco argues that, while it has been promoting higher-welfare chicken sales, there is no reason why it shouldn’t also provide more affordable options.
‘No one should feel guilty for buying a chicken just because it is good value. The only reduction we make is in the price, not the welfare,’ said company spokesperson Jonathon Church.
While Tesco refused to respond to a £2 chicken offer from competitor Asda last year, there are fears that this current promotion could prompt a supermarket price war.
A spokeswoman for Asda stated: ‘We always endeavor to be best on price. As far as I know we have no plans to cut prices, but it might all change tomorrow’.