Viva! has investigated the UKs leading privately owned
agrifood business - Grampian Country Foods which produces
nearly a third of all UK-reared chickens.
A Recipe for Disaster - Viva! footage of Grampian chickens.
Nutley, East Sussex.
Viva! filmed at a Grampian Country Chickens broiler unit
in Nutley, East Sussex in February 2002. The windowless shed
was crammed with thousands of broiler (meat) chickens
kept under artificial light. The noise and the smell of ammonia
were overpowering. The flooring had accumulated excreta that
would not be changed for the chickens lifetime. Outside
the shed there were dead and rotting chickens piled up. Inside
the shed there were dead and dying chickens amongst living
ones. Investigators witnessed ammonia burns and sores on many
of the chickens bodies and some chickens undersides
were nearly bald and were caked in faeces. Investigators filmed
chickens trampling on and pecking at dead and rotting birds.
Many birds were unable to stand to move to water and feed
points (this often results in starvation and death). Viva!
investigators filmed birds with such severely deformed legs
that they were unable to stand or walk and their feet were
splayed out to the sides of their bodies. One bird was desperately
gasping for air and was clearly distressed and dying.
Grampian Country Chickens - the Company
Grampian Country Food Group was established in 1980. The group
now operates 43 principle locations, employing around 20,000
people throughout the UK, Thailand and Germany, with an
annual turnover of £1.8 billion (1). By 2008, Grampian
supplied over 7,000 tonnes of chicken a week to British
supermarkets, including Asda, Co-op, Marks and Spencer,
Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Somerfield - as well as restaurants,
butchers and markets (2). As well as chicken, the company produces: beef, lamb and pork and a variety of pork convenience foods.
Grampain process (slaughter and package) nearly 3 million chickens
per week. The company produces a huge range of chicken products.
These include the super roaster, fillets, thighs,
drumsticks; cooked whole birds and portions and numerous
convenience products. The chicken division has sites
throughout the country, but has recently been downsized in
light of overseas competition, a lack of consumer confidence
and the growing number of vegetarians in the UK (An annual
drop in slaughter (2006 figures) showed that 20 million fewer
chickens were killed in Britain. Even taking into account all
imports, exports and domestic production, poultry meat
consumption in the UK fell by 32,000 tons (4)). The company
closed several site (including their plant in Banff,
Scotland), and between 2005-2006 disclosed a loss of £40
The company state, High welfare standards for the chickens
are an important contributory factor in their health and overall
good condition (3). When our undercover investigators
filmed inside one of Grampians units, welfare standards were
clearly wholly inadequate. The chickens were kept in
conditions and there were dead and dying birds among the living
inside the shed. Many of the birds were in a pitiful state
of health and poor condition.