In February 2008, Tesco caused an outrage amongst the animal welfare campaigners for selling chicken for as little as £1.99 each because it increases the pressure on the poultry industry and makes it harder to improve welfare standards of the chicken reared on the factory farms.
Tesco reduced the price of chicken by 60% to £1.99 in a week long campaign in order to make chickenmore affordable for families with low income.
Animal welfare group Compassion In World Farming representative Lesley Lambert stated that the farmers only earned 2p per chicken at that such discounts will put a strain on British farmers. Tesco should be cutting the price of higher welfare chickens instead. Heavy discounting of standard chicken began weeks after a week long “Hugh’s Chicken Run”campaign by a celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall that was aimed improving consumers’ knowledge about the welfare standards on the chicken factory farms. (The Independent Online, 2008)
The National Farmers' Union said that the move was” extremely ill-judged and short sighted" and that Tesco is devaluing the price of chicken at the same time as it is rising. The price is not sustainableunless Tesco subsidizes it. (BBC News Online, 2008)
An RSPCA representative stated that the customer has the strength to change the supermarket policy and should refrain from purchasing cheap chicken. Assured Chicken Production (ACP) guidelines, regulating body for standard reared chicken, permit 19 birds per one squared meter whereas higher welfare such as RSPCA Freedom Food allows maximum of 15birds per one square meter. A government founded study has shown that each year 220 million chickens live in pain each year due to cramped and poor living conditions in the factory farms. (Daily Mail Online, 2008) A study founded by Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)found that at around 40 days old 27.6% of the 51,000 chickens that were studied exhibited "poor locomotion" and3.3% could almost not walk at all. (World Poultry, 2008)
1.1 Research Rationale
The aim of this research paper is to investigate the current poultry market trends within the UK overall and the chicken sales trends at Tesco. Each year, an average British person eats staggering 23kg of chicken and as a result, millions of chickens are intensively reared each year to meet the consumer demand.(BBC Food Matters, 2009)
The primary research in to Tesco’s customers’ preferences will be carried out to investigate whether the general industry trends reflect the consumer demand at Tesco and identify what motivates the customer to purchase different standards of chicken.
Fisher and Lovell (2003) state that Tesco mainly serves customers with lower income that are less likely to be concerned withcorporate social responsibility. The survey aims to find out if this is the true representation of Tesco and the main factors that are deterring the customers from switching to higher welfare standard chicken.
Also, Tesco’s Animal Welfare Policy will be examined, taking into consideration the criticism from the animal welfare organisations and the impact of the consumer demand on the policy.The end result of this research paper will be a recommendation for Tesco that is based on the industry findings and Tesco’s customers’ point of view.
1.2 Factory Farming
In the opening paragraph of this research paper, a term “factory farm” was introduced. Factory farming is also known as intensive and industrialised farming because this method of farming is based on the mass productionphilosophy. Other terms that describe the same method include:
o Intensive farming because of the large number of animals living in very small indoor space that has controlled temperature and lighting to maximise growth rate;
o Industrialised farming because watering, feeding and dung cleaning is often performed mechanically with very little human involvement.
1.3 Factory Farming of...
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