Ikea Food Services has announced a comprehensive plan to increase the welfare of its chickens. The Better Chicken Program covers all key areas at the farming level, ensuring suppliers stick to stricter guidelines for proper chicken care.

Regarding the new initiative, Ikea Food’s health and sustainability manager Jacqueline Macalister said: “Following two years of research and development, I’m delighted we now are sharing the Better Chicken Program, the first of our sustainable agriculture initiatives for farm animals, which demonstrates our commitment to driving positive change in the food industry.”

The guidelines will be enforced over two deadlines. By 2020, Ikea suppliers should adhere to a maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2, eight hours of continuous lighting per day, no routine use of antibiotics, a manure management plan to combat unnecessary pollution, and the use of non-deforestation feed.

By 2025, the commitment will expand to focus on introducing natural light, phasing out high-priority antibiotics altogether, and innovating existing practices of breeding, slaughter and transport.

Strategists at Ikea Food expect to launch the two-stage criteria in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific simultaneously. Ikea conceded that the process could take longer in Asia, especially the introduction of non-deforestation bird feed, as palm oil and soy is widely used in the region. Implementation is therefore subject to bespoke regional roadmaps, and further analysis will be required before implementing the second-stage regulations in Asia Pacific, the company said.

Ikea Food is eager to reduce its global environmental impact in the procurement of all types of animal products, rolling out a series of Better Programs covering foods such as eggs, pork, beef, dairy and salmon. The company aims to be compliant with the new guidelines for these products by 2025.

In reference to its broader environmental responsibility, the company said: “Ikea Food Services wants to have a positive impact on people, animals and the planet…Ikea Food has developed the Better Programs to address and focus ambitions for more sustainable agriculture for all major animals in the Ikea food supply chain.”

An obligation to sustainability and the environment is nothing new with regards to Ikea’s global strategy. The furniture giant introduced solar panels on some of its warehouse roofs in 2017. Now, it aims to be a net exporter of renewable energy by 2020.

The Better Chicken Program may be a good way for Ikea to test the practicality of its food standards strategy. It certainly could be a savvy business model for Ikea as food sustainability and animal welfare remains a hot topic for many consumers.