PCC Community Markets (PCC), a Seattle-based community-owned food market, is committing to improve the welfare of chickens raised for meat by meeting the standards of Compassion in World Farming’s Better Chicken Initiative (BCI) and the Joint Animal Protection Organization Statement on Broiler Chicken Welfare. PCC says it is the first retailer in the country to comprehensively address broiler chicken welfare—not only for fresh and frozen chicken but also ready-to-eat chicken products.
PCC also will introduce a private-label line of organic, air-chilled chicken in partnership with Sanger, California-based Pitman Farms.
“As the first farm in its industry to be verified with the Non-GMO Project, Pitman Farms has a long legacy of responsible farming, animal welfare and environmental standards,” said PCC in a statement.
Available in store in late May, PCC Organic Chicken will include fresh chicken that meets the BCI requirements.
“Today we expand upon PCC’s longstanding commitment to healthier food production systems, ensuring that chickens raised for meat are treated in ways recommended by our nation’s top experts,” said Brenna Davis, PCC Community Markets VP of social and environmental responsibility. “We are grateful to partner with Compassion in World Farming on this important issue, and together, we hope to inspire our industry to do better.”
PCC currently carries organic fresh and frozen chicken that meets higher welfare standards than conventional commercial methods. The grocer will further its animal welfare efforts by pledging that 100 percent of its fresh and frozen chicken, and ready-to-eat chicken products, meet the following guidelines by 2024:
- Transition to strains of birds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes that meet the criteria of the RSPCA Broiler Breed Welfare Assessment Protocol or Global Animal Partnership (GAP). Reduce stocking density to a maximum of 6 lbs. per s.f. and prohibit broiler cages;
- Provide birds enhanced environments including litter, lighting and enrichment that meets GAP’s new standards;
- Process chickens in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling and instead utilizes a multistep controlled-atmosphere processing system that induces an irreversible stun; and
- Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing.
“As the first retailer to commit to improving broiler chicken welfare for its ready-to-eat chicken products in addition to fresh and frozen chicken, PCC furthers its strong and longstanding commitment to farmed animal welfare,” said Katya Simkhovich, food business manager with Compassion in World Farming. “We are thrilled to have PCC as a partner in continuing to push the needle meaningfully forwards on broiler chicken animal welfare.”
PCC brands itself has having among the highest product standards in the country. More than 95 percent of its produce selection is organic; its meats are 100 percent organic, non-GMO or grass-fed; its seafood is sustainably sourced adhering to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch standards; and, whenever possible, the co-op sources its products from organic and local producers, farmers, ranchers and fishers. Its shelves are stocked with products made without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, nanotechnology or synthetic biology. The grocer turns away more than 500 ingredients.
Founded in Seattle in 1953, PCC has an active membership of more than 60,000 households. It operates 11 stores in the Puget Sound area, including the cities of Bothell, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Seattle. Seattle stores are in the neighborhoods of Columbia City, Fremont, Green Lake and View Ridge, along with West Seattle, which will reopen in 2019. The co-op plans to open new stores in Burien, Washington, in May 2018, in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 2019 and Madison Valley and Downtown Seattle in 2020.
Over the last five years, the co-op gave more than 50 percent of its after-tax net earnings back to its members, and an additional eight percent of its after-tax net earnings to schools and nonprofits around the Puget Sound area, including PCC Farmland Trust, Washington Tilth Association and FareStart.