Casual Dining Group (CDG) has signed up to the European Chicken Commitment, following in the footsteps of KFC UK & Ireland.

The restaurant group said the announcement would build on the company’s cage-free egg pledge and responsible fish sourcing programme and would demonstrate its commitment to animal welfare.

The signing of the commitment follows months of planning, analysis and engagement with Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) to ensure that every opportunity was explored in order to successfully achieve and sustain its aims.

Those signing the European Chicken Commitment are required to commit to a range of key standards by 2026 around slower growing chicken breeds, reduced stocking density, environmental enrichment, natural light, and humane slaughtering processes, with all parties involved in the agreement will be audited by an independent body to ensure they are meeting the requirements.

Simon Galkoff, group procurement director, CDG, said: “This agreement is a very exciting time for us and demonstrates months of hard work across the business. The decision to sign this agreement was not something we took lightly, and we have conducted significant due diligence and research with CIWF to ensure we’re comfortable that plans are in place to meet the requirements of the commitment.”

Galkoff said the key to achieving the standards will be working together as an industry to share best practice and achieve a common goal.

“We’re very much looking forward to being part of this industry collaboration and continue our close working relationship with the team at Compassion in World Farming in a continual pursuit of improving practices across our entire supply chain,” he said.

CDG and CIWF are hoping to host a working group later this year to develop a five-year action plan, supported by annual progress reports, prioritising the challenges that will need to be overcome in order to deliver the standards.

Dr Tracey Jones, Compassion’s director of food business, added: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Casual Dining Group over the last few years. We have seen them tackle confinement in laying hens and are delighted to see them extend their welfare focus to broiler chickens. They have a genuine ambition to make a positive contribution to animal welfare across their business, but also across the wider industry.

“Few companies can achieve these production changes alone and we urge others to join the movement to prioritise broiler welfare.”