Supermarket chain Lidl GB has launched a nationwide trial of a UK-first fresh meat labelling system to improve transparency for customers.

The trial will run across Lidl’s fresh chicken products and aims to satisfy consumer demand. Insights from Lidl revealed that when it comes to fresh chicken, customers want more detailed labelling, with 71% asking that retailers become more transparent with the information displayed on packaging.

Lidl said that if successful, the labels could be rolled out across other meat products.

The fresh meat labelling system is similar to the farming system information found on egg packaging. The supermarket chain explained that research showed consumers found this type of labelling very informative, with two-thirds of British consumers saying that egg packaging is detailed and transparent, helping them understand how the chickens laying them were kept.

The fresh meat labelling system will include one of the following messages:

Indoor: Birds are reared outside the UK to legal housing requirements.

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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.

Lidl chief commercial officer Ryan McDonnell 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.”

RSPCA senior scientific officer for farm animals Sophie Elwes said: “We are delighted Lidl are taking this step to ensure that labels on their fresh chicken clearly shows the method of production and we applaud them for being the first retailer in Britain to voluntarily do this on chicken.

“Lidl customers will now be able to make an informed choice about the chicken they buy and we hope it will lead to more people buying higher welfare options in the same way that sales of cage-free eggs increased when they were labelled in this way. This step will establish a labelling system that benefits chickens, farmers and customers.

“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.”