Cheap chicken in demand

The great chicken debate shows no sign of abating. Yesterday’s announcement by Tesco that it will start selling birds for £1.99 prompted a flurry of outrage.
“Why should a chicken be £1.99? No disrespect to families on a tight budget, this is a matter of animal welfare” said Martin of Stockport and his reaction was typical of the thousands of online users who read the M.E.N’s story yesterday.
A poll on the issue shows further evidence that cheap chicken is not wanted. The celebrity chef campaign appears to have worked, the consumer is demanding more ethical treatment of creatures. 71% of respondents (at the time of this posting) say they wouldn’t buy a £1.99 chicken.
So who is buying the stuff? Tesco isn’t known for suicidal trading decisions so there must be something behind a move which seems to be at odds with the current climate. After everything that’s been said, every TV revealation and every grisly broiler shed image, chicken for £1.99 must be tempting shoppers or the shopping giant wouldn’t stock it.
In its statement to the media yesterday the company said it was cutting the price of standard whole birds from £3.30 to £1.99 to ensure shoppers on a budget also benefit. It claimed the lower price would mean families can sit down to roast chicken and all the trimmings for less than £1.00 per person.
Tesco Media Director Jonathan Church added: “No-one should feel guilty for buying a chicken just because it is good value. The only reduction we make is in the price – not the welfare.”
That statement gives the reality of the situation – guilt. Yes, people feel bad about the images of broiler chickens being processed as commodities, but, they don’t find it so hard to put those feelings to one-side when it becomes a financial imperative.
If the man from Tesco can assuage our guilt with a chirpy label, some gentle reassurance over welfare standards cling-film wrapped with permission to go-ahead, the price worth paying will always be the lowest.

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8 thoughts on “Cheap chicken in demand

  1. My colleagues and I think Tesco and the like who trade in cheap chickens are an utter disgrace. If they think that people on low income would want to eat chickens that have been kept in awful conditions before buying them then they don’t think much of their customers. They arn’t thinking of their customers just their profits. Tesco want to re-think their priority.

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  2. My colleagues and I think Tesco and the like who trade in cheap chickens are an utter disgrace. If they think that people on low income would want to eat chickens that have been kept in awful conditions before buying them then they don’t think much of their customers. They arn’t thinking of their customers just their profits. Tesco want to re-think their priority.

    Like

  3. In the current financial climate Tescos should be applauded. OK, they are probably the country’s biggest retail capitalists but, in February 2008, any discount on a basic food commodity will no doubt be welcomed by a majority of customers.
    Indeed, supply and demand is undoubtedly a wonderful thing. But the fact is that the average consumer cares more about how they are going to feed their family on, in reality, a ever reducing budget, than whether chickens are lied to about what time of day it is. As Tescos put it, “No-one should feel guilty buying a chicken just because it is good value.”
    A vast majority of the population cannot afford the luxury of fair trade coffee or free range foods. For those that can, great. I hope that you and Marks & Spencer are very happy.

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  4. In the current financial climate Tescos should be applauded. OK, they are probably the country’s biggest retail capitalists but, in February 2008, any discount on a basic food commodity will no doubt be welcomed by a majority of customers.
    Indeed, supply and demand is undoubtedly a wonderful thing. But the fact is that the average consumer cares more about how they are going to feed their family on, in reality, a ever reducing budget, than whether chickens are lied to about what time of day it is. As Tescos put it, “No-one should feel guilty buying a chicken just because it is good value.”
    A vast majority of the population cannot afford the luxury of fair trade coffee or free range foods. For those that can, great. I hope that you and Marks & Spencer are very happy.

    Like

  5. Sadly, the majority of the population doesn’t watch Channel 4 or visit food blogs. The majority do shop in Tesco and the majority are price conscious.
    I am trying to take a balanced view of the whole debate – I don’t want the humble chicken to become a food for the rich, but neither do I want to see poultry farmers being screwed by the supermarkets. How can it be physically possible to farm, slaughter, pack, transport and sell a chicken for less than £2? The truth is, it can’t – and it’s certainly not a sustainable business model.
    If the likes of Tesco – who set the food agenda, much to the chagrin of food writers and broadcasters – continue in this vein, they will inevitably drive British farmers out of business and leave us with only imported and dubious meat from countries like Brazil.
    On a side-note, I have to object to the BBC 10:00 news article on this subject last night – they showed the inside of an intensive broiler shed and then did a piece to camera from a farmyard with hens scratching around. It was not a fair comparisson – the hens that were in the farm were layers, not broilers and it certainly didn’t look like a commercial farm to me (I’ve never seen a commercial free-range broiler in the same field as a cow…)

    Like

  6. Sadly, the majority of the population doesn’t watch Channel 4 or visit food blogs. The majority do shop in Tesco and the majority are price conscious.
    I am trying to take a balanced view of the whole debate – I don’t want the humble chicken to become a food for the rich, but neither do I want to see poultry farmers being screwed by the supermarkets. How can it be physically possible to farm, slaughter, pack, transport and sell a chicken for less than £2? The truth is, it can’t – and it’s certainly not a sustainable business model.
    If the likes of Tesco – who set the food agenda, much to the chagrin of food writers and broadcasters – continue in this vein, they will inevitably drive British farmers out of business and leave us with only imported and dubious meat from countries like Brazil.
    On a side-note, I have to object to the BBC 10:00 news article on this subject last night – they showed the inside of an intensive broiler shed and then did a piece to camera from a farmyard with hens scratching around. It was not a fair comparisson – the hens that were in the farm were layers, not broilers and it certainly didn’t look like a commercial farm to me (I’ve never seen a commercial free-range broiler in the same field as a cow…)

    Like

  7. Most blokes I know, including myself, simply go to the supermarket to buy chicken. We go to the chicken section, pick up a pack that says chicken on it, and throw it in the trolley. Price, origin, grisly broiler shed or freerange doesn’t come into the decision making process. The only thing that matters is that I get “chicken” crossed off my list!

    Like

  8. Most blokes I know, including myself, simply go to the supermarket to buy chicken. We go to the chicken section, pick up a pack that says chicken on it, and throw it in the trolley. Price, origin, grisly broiler shed or freerange doesn’t come into the decision making process. The only thing that matters is that I get “chicken” crossed off my list!

    Like

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