Animal welfare groups have called for Lidl's "Supermarket of the Year" award to be revoked following allegations of "animal cruelty."

Lidl has a workforce of over 30,000, over 950 stores and 13 regional distribution centres, with its biggest set to open in Luton later this year.

Last week, Lidl won "Supermarket of the Year" at the Retail Industry Awards (RIA) with one judge saying: “Clear strategy to range, consumer and supplier relationships, adapting and growing across all areas.

"Finally a comprehensive focus on the community and the environment across multiple areas – all in all, a very strong year and deserved win for Lidl!”

However, members of the Open Wing Alliance - a coalition of 90 animal welfare groups - have since published an open letter to the Retail Industry Awards (RIA) demanding the removal of Lidl’s title as “Supermarket of the Year” following last week’s ceremony.

The groups accuse the RIA of not “taking a stand” against animal cruelty. 

Last June, the budget supermarket responded to an expose video posted by Open Cages UK which showed deceased chickens littering a farm which supplies food manufacturing company 2 Sisters, and allegedly through them, Lidl.

The investigation also claimed to find: "severe injuries", "major welfare issues", "birds routinely run over" and "shocking and systemic animal cruelty" at the farm.

Wildlife TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham also responded to Lidl's award, saying: “I’m really shocked to learn that Lidl has been crowned “supermarket of the year” knowing how poorly chickens are treated in the company’s supply chain.

"These intelligent, sensitive animals deserve better. I ask the Retail Industry Awards: please don’t reward animal cruelty. Reverse this decision.”

Connor Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Open Cages told Newsquest: “As the largest retailer in Europe, Lidl has a particular responsibility to lead the way on animal welfare. The lives of the 300 million chickens sold in Lidl across Europe each year live overwhelmingly miserable lives.

"Lidl has already acknowledged this problem in France by signing the Better Chicken Commitment, but it refuses to do it anywhere else. Lidl is the linchpin that is holding the entire industry back and we believe that such irresponsible behaviour should not be rewarded.”

"Chickens deserve more"

Sean Gifford, Managing Director of The Humane League UK commented: “Lidl, the “Supermarket of the Year”, is up to its elbows in shocking animal cruelty all across Europe. Animal abuse should be a disqualifying factor when it comes to rewarding food businesses.

"Retailers like M&S and Waitrose have tried to improve how they treat animals, yet Lidl has been steadfast in their defence of systematic cruelty. Chickens deserve more, and the industry should hold itself to the standards of basic decency which the public expects.”

Previously, Lidl told us: "The materials you reference are misleading and misrepresentative of facts."

They then listed "the facts" as below:

  • The farm depicted in the footage does not supply Lidl GB
  • It does, however, supply other UK supermarkets including Aldi, Co-op, Tesco and Asda
  • The supplier has condemned the footage
  • 2 Sisters confirmed that data from the time of the footage suggests birds were healthy and well managed
  • Multiple audits since then also confirm this is the case today. The supplier has personally visited the farm and had an independent vet visit in addition to the farm being red tractor approved
  • The farm is not in breach of any legislative requirements
  • Red Tractor has confirmed that the farm was subject to a regular independent inspection earlier this year and found to comply with Red Tractor core standards
  • As the farm is a Red Tractor farm, it could supply to any and all of 2 Sisters’ customers, particularly its biggest customers (see below)
  • 2 Sisters is the sole supplier of Aldi and Co-op, and the majority supplier of other retailers
  • The original media owner that was first approached with the story in the UK, which chose not to report on the claims, conceded that it could not guarantee the footage was an accurate and fair reflection of reality
  • Based on false allegations made by Open Cages, which have been disproved by the supplier, we have reason to believe that footage supplied to the original media was manipulated

Newsquest approached Lidl for comment.