Transition from conventional broiler meat to meat from production concepts with higher animal welfare: Experiences from the Netherlands

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Since the 1970s, animal welfare (AW) in Dutch broiler production has been criticized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the general public. Despite the development of production concepts aimed at improving AW, the conventional concept, which satisfied only the minimum legal requirements, remained by far the most dominant one in the Dutch fresh broiler meat market. Then, quite suddenly, in 2014–2015 (i.e., within less than two years), a new broiler concept with increased AW was introduced, which included a slower growing animal, more space, and an improved light regime. This alternative completely replaced the by then conventional concept. The aim of this study was to investigate the origin, causes, and driving forces of this sudden change. Popular and scientific literature, as well as interviews with key players in this transition process, were used to re-construct the chronology of events and draw the main and decisive findings. The latter include: (1) The availability of a cost-efficient alternative to conventional concepts, (2) a basic willingness to change within the entire value chain (including consumers), (3) initiating and triggering actions by NGOs, (4) decisive initiatives by retailers and (5) simultaneous introduction of the new concept and replacement of the conventional concept (i.e., depriving the consumer of a cheaper choice alternative). The result was a real transition of the Dutch fresh meat market without negative purchasing responses of the consumers. It was concluded that, although the Dutch fresh broiler meat market only included 30% of total domestic production, the existence of the abovementioned decisive factors could bring about an important change in favor of AW within a short period of time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number483
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019


  • Animal welfare
  • Broiler production
  • Improved production concepts
  • The Netherlands


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