TV chef to put his chicken welfare concerns to Tesco shareholders

TV celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has successfully raised the £86,888 which will allow him to table a resolution at the up coming Tesco AGM, calling on the retail chain to stop selling conventionally reared chicken in its stores.

The TV chef bought a share in Tesco earlier this year, giving him the right to put a resolution to the company’s AGM in Birmingham on 27 June.

However, Tesco requested the sum in order to pay for the distribution of Mr Fearnley Whittingstall’s resolution, supporting statement and proxy voter forms to approximately 269,000 Tesco shareholders.

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His resolution calls on Britain’s biggest supermarket to upgrade its poultry welfare standards so that it is in line with their stated claim to endorse the “Five Freedoms” as set down by the Farm Animal Welfare Council.

In practice this would be achievable by a commitment to upgrading their poultry to at least the RSPCA Freedom Foods production system which, although indoor-reared, uses slower growing breeds, a lower stocking density and environmental enrichment to allow chickens to express natural behaviour.

Mr Fearnley Whittingstall auctioned himself and his services and also pledged £30,000 of his own money, and received a generous donation together with technical and fund raising assistance from the charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

“I’m really relieved and hugely grateful to everyone who has shown their support by donating through Compassion, and by bidding for my services,” he said.

“This is not just about animal welfare, it also raises the question of how huge public corporations communicate with and hold themselves accountable to, their shareholders and customers.”

Mr Fearnley Whittingstall added that there have been many additional pledges of support from people who have not been able to bid or donate cash but who have written to Tesco expressing their support for his resolution.