Costco Chicken Farms Sued for Mistreatment
A massive rotisserie chicken business hangs in uncertain territory...
Costco went all in on their rotisserie chicken business in 2019 when the company purchased a $450 Million poultry processing plant in Nebraska. A questionable and not too often seen step by retail companies, but it was a sign of just how much the grocery giant valued rotisserie chickens and just how important they are to the business.
As Costco sells the chickens at a price lower than its competitors, 106 Million chickens were sold last year. However, Costco may not be selling those chickens at such a pace as the company faces a lawsuit from two shareholders accusing Costco and its top executives of violating animal welfare laws and breaking fiduciary duties.
"Costco illegally neglects and abandons its chickens. Caused, [are] aware of, and consciously disregarded clear signs of Costco's ongoing mistreatment of chickens."
The suit claims.
The suit alleges that the company intentionally breeds boilers too large to stand on their own on factory farms. The birds are said to then die from hunger, injury, and illness as they ultimately become disabled. Another animal rights group has also filed a complaint surrounding the same exact issue.
Mercy for Animals filmed an undercover video of injured chickens in a very crowded factory at one of the farms. The New York Times then wrote a piece titled "The Ugly Secrets Behind the Costco Chicken."
Costco has since defended the treatment of the animals by claiming it adheres to standards developed by the National Chicken Council. Costco’s practices may hurt the demand for rotisserie chicken, according to the lawsuit.
"As more consumers learn of the mistreatment of Costco chickens, the benefits reaped using loss-leading rotisserie chickens to drive customer traffic and purchases . . . will vanish or greatly diminish because consumer preferences to not buy products made illegally or unethically will trump the lure of a 'cheap' chicken."
The suit reads.