The labelling, similar to Lidl’s egg packaging, features simple information on farming systems. It breaks them down into: Indoor; British Indoor; British Indoor+; British Free Range; and British Organic.
Lidl said it had introduced this packaging in response to customer research, which found that 71% of consumers demanded retailers become more transparent with the information displayed.
The trial will be introduced across Lidl’s fresh chicken products before being potentially rolled out for other meat products.
Ryan McDonnell, chief commercial officer of Lidl GB, said: “To ensure that we are continuing to make good food accessible for all households, it’s important that we offer customers quality meat products that are from a range of different farming systems. In addition to working with trusted partners, to give our customers the confidence that welfare standards are being maintained, we feel it’s important to provide them with very clear, objective information about how the meat was produced to enable them to make an informed purchase decision.
“With method of production labelling having been in place for a number of years on egg packaging, it makes sense to us to apply the same concept to meat products. It’s a topic that has been discussed extensively across the industry and we’re pleased that, through our lean and agile business model, we are in a strong position to be able to conduct this trial for our customers and share our findings to support any future developments.”
The trial has been widely praised by animal welfare groups and accreditation bodies.
Sophie Elwes, senior scientific officer for Farm Animals at the RSPCA, said: “This is such an encouraging move as the RSPCA has long campaigned for method of production labelling to be made mandatory on animal products and we hope that other retailers will follow Lidl’s lead.”
Dr Tracey Jones, director of food business at Compassion in World Farming, praised how it would make easier for shoppers to purchase higher-welfare options, while Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley “welcomed any initiative that helps shoppers looking for the trusted Red Tractor label make an informed decision on the food they wish to buy”.
Lidl also committed to sourcing all its fresh chicken from the UK farms by October 2018. The supermarket already sources two-thirds of its core products in Britain and the retailer is committed to extending this further.
What do the labels mean?
• Indoor – Birds are reared outside the UK to legal housing requirements
• British Indoor – Birds live in safe, comfortable housing with natural daylight, bales, perches and pecking objects
• British Indoor+ - Birds live in housing with more space to exhibit natural behaviour; with natural daylight and environmental enrichment
• British Free Range – Birds live in safe, comfortable housing with access to the outdoors for a minimum of eight hours a day
• British Organic – Birds have access to large outdoor ranges, with smaller flock sizes and a GM-free diet