Morrisons under fire for “ignoring animal suffering in supply chain”

The private-equity firm behind rebuffed interest in Morrisons has been told to up its potential offer as the backlash against a proposed purchase of the supermarket chain intensifies.
CD&R has until July 17 to indicate a firm intention to make an offer for Morrisons.
// Morrisons faces criticism from an animal protection organisation over its “cruel” chicken supply chain
// Animal Equality UK launched a Twitter attack on the grocer for its lack of transparency
// The organisation called on Morrisons to explain the “extreme cruelty to chickens that is taking place in its supply chain”

Morrisons has been criticised by an international animal protection organisation for “ignoring the severe animal suffering in its chicken supply chain”.

Animal Equality UK has called on the Big 4 grocer to explain the “extreme cruelty to chickens that is taking place in its supply chain”.

The organisation launched the attack on social media platform Twitter in an effort to begin the hashtag trend #MorrisonsInvestmentScandal.

READ MORE: Morrisons in firing line after Covid bonus for CEO David Potts

Since then, many activist pages have joined Animal Equality UK to call on Morrisons and demand transparency.

A Morrisons spokesperson told Retail Gazette that the grocer “cares deeply about animal welfare”.

“All our regular chicken is raised to above Red Tractor standards; we are also the only retailer in Europe to ask our fresh chicken suppliers to require chicken to be born into the barn in which it will be raised by 2025,” the spokesperson said.

“Eighty per cent of our fresh chicken meets this standard already.

“We also actively monitor for any malpractice in our supply chain; we will never tolerate it or look the other way. And if we ever find it, we will act swiftly and decisively.

“Our position on chicken is clear: We offer Free Range, Organic and regular chicken in our stores.”

Animal Equality UK campaigns and public affairs specialist, Jenny Canham said: “In a recent announcement, Morrisons boasted of its new ‘higher welfare range’, yet on closer inspection you can see that this may impact a mere one per cent of the chickens in its supply chain.”

“Morrisons’ misleading marketing isn’t fooling anyone,” she said.

“Hundreds of millions of chickens in the UK are left to languish, living a life of absolute agony. Bred to become far too big, their hearts, lungs and legs often buckle from the weight of their enormous bodies.

“And it’s not only the chickens who are overlooked. Hundreds of consumers are taking to Twitter to voice their concerns, yet Morrisons continues to stonewall and silence the public.

“Clearly this company has little care for its customers. We are urging Morrisons to adopt the Better Chicken Commitment ahead of its Annual General Meeting next week.

“This is a scandal and this issue isn’t going away. Morrisons must show that it takes animal welfare seriously by making this critical commitment to improve the lives of millions of animals.”

Animal Equality UK has also uploaded a video where it asked former customers of Morrisons why they no longer shop at the supermarket.

The dispute comes after Morrisons reportedly blocked emails from activists to its chief executive last month that all the chain’s chicken was free-range.

Conservationist and wildlife expert Chris Packham had challenged Morrisons to let him film inside a standard shed to reveal the “hellish” lives of chickens, warning they are subjected to “extreme suffering”, The Independent reported.

Packham wrote to Morrisons chief executive David Potts that it “shocked” him to see “an iconic British name like Morrisons appearing to have such little regard for animal welfare”.

“The use of rapidly growing Frankenchickens and the overcrowded conditions they’re reared in inherently causes extreme suffering to these birds. I have been shown an exposé of your supplier companies which I found very distressing to watch,” he wrote.

Morrisons removed the facility to comment from its Facebook page, restricted Twitter comments and blocked emails to its chief executive.

Retail Gazette has approached Animal Equality UK for comment.

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