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The Pecking Order 2021 Report: Fast-Food Restaurants are Failing Chickens



For the third year in a row, we’ve rated eight global fast-food companies on how well they treat their chickens around the world. The 2021 results are in.

A few companies are making some progress on chicken welfare in the US, but the majority of brands have seen no change in the three years we have been publishing this report. This means that the majority of chickens going to fast-food chains continue to be raised in cruel, crowded, and barren conditions with painful physical deformities and increased risk of disease. 

The Pecking Order assesses fast-food giants against three criteria:

  1. Policies (Corporate Commitments): Does the company publicly state how important the welfare of chickens is to them? We assess whether companies have chicken sourcing policies aligned with the well-known higher-welfare standards required by the Better Chicken Commitment
  2. Targets (Objectives and Targets): Does the company have a defined timeline that demonstrates the objectives, targets and promises a company has made to improve chicken welfare and when they will meet them; and  
  3. Reporting (Performance Reporting): Does the company regularly report on performance to show how it is living up to its promises?  

Based on their score across these three criteria, the companies are assigned a rank within six tiers from 1 (‘leading’) through to 6 (‘very poor’). 

Here are the US scores: 


Starbucks is tied for first in the US Pecking Order rankings with 67%, placing it in Tier 3 ‘making progress.’ However, the company has achieved Tier 3 every year of the report and cannot advance until it issues a public report on progress towards implementing its higher welfare commitments in its supply chain. 

Subway ties for first in Tier 3 with a score of 67%. Just as Starbucks, though, the company has never reported on progress towards implementing its long-standing commitment. Without this reporting, we have no idea whether the company is actually working towards improving the lives of its chickens or misleading its customers. 

Burger King is the only company to make significant progress in this year’s report, achieving Tier 3 ‘making progress’ as a result of providing some reporting.

‘Getting started’ is a better grade than last year’s ‘poor’ but it is still not good enough. McDonald’s should do better for chickens in their supply chain.

KFC continues to rank in the bottom in the US scorecard with little action from the company on chicken welfare in the country it calls home. This is despite KFC making significant progress in other markets, such as the UK and several European countries, including robust reporting on welfare metrics for the UK and Ireland.

Pizza Hut, owned by the same parent company as KFC (Yum! Brands), similarly ranks toward the bottom, sharing a 6% Tier 6 score. As with KFC, Pizza Hut has made commitments to improve chicken welfare in other countries, but continues to ignore its customers and chickens in the US.

Nando’s is one of two companies with 0% score for the US. The UK-based chicken chain has committed to the BCC in the UK but there is no signal from its US offices of any plans to carry this commitment to the US market.

Domino’s Pizza Inc., the Domino’s brand operating in the US, also ranks down at the very bottom with a 0%, having no action on chicken welfare at all. None of the eight companies achieved scores in the ‘good’ (Tier 2) or ‘leader’ (Tier 1) categories for their US progress, and several have been ‘making progress’ for a number of years.

Read the pecking order 2021 report.

Spotlight on KFC: 

KFC is one of the brands that received a score of ‘very poor’, despite the company’s affiliates in other countries having made substantial commitments to improve chicken welfare. The branches in the United Kingdom, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Sweden have all committed to the full standards outlined in the BCC. Progress in these markets put KFC ahead of all of the other companies in the global Pecking Order rankings. 

But as one of the most iconic chicken chains in the US, the public is relying on KFC to be a responsible company here as well. That means having minimum standards for the welfare of the millions of chickens in its US supply chain. 

Tell KFC to adopt the BCC in the US. 

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