Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls on industry to switch to free-range poultry

23 January 2008
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls on industry to switch to free-range poultry

Writer and broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose campaign against intensive farming on Channel 4 has driven nationwide debate over the past fortnight, has appealed to the hospitality industry to switch to free-range meat.

In an exclusive webcast for Caterer, The River Cottage chef and campaigner urges consumers to switch to free-range chicken during his Hugh's Chicken Run show, part of the Big Food Fight series, aired earlier this month (January). Around 112,500 consumers have pledged to switch so far, with the target of 250,000.

In an interview with Caterer and Hotelkeeper this week (24 January), Fearnley-Whittingstall has extended the call to hospitality and food service operators.

"Cheap chicken has become a bread-and-butter product in the catering industry because a lot of outlets expect to make quite a big margin on it," he told Caterer.

"It's one thing to challenge individual consumers to give up intensively reared chicken but it's also an issue where anyone in the business of selling chicken has to take a stand," he said.

But he warned that this was not a message just to the lower end of the catering market. "In some cases I know chefs, not naming names, at the very high-end sector who are not using free-range birds. Some of them are on the road to Michelin stars."

"I want to challenge the industry to offer a free-range choice and, if you want to lend your support, I'd be proud to publish a list on our website of restaurants, pubs, cafes, canteens and school kitchens which have made the commitment to use free-range meat."

Do you support the campaign? Would you be prepared to switch to entirely free-range meat? Let us know by e-mailing

Sodexho upbeat despite City drubbing - For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say >>

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to fight against ‘bullying' supermarkets >>

Fearnley-Whittingstall wins top award for commitment to real food >>

Antony Worrall Thompson and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall join the fight to save fish stocks >>

Hugh's Chicken Run >>

By Tom Vaughan and Amanda Afiya

E-mail your comments to Tom Vaughan here.

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