RESTAURANT chain wagamama has announced that it will meet the higher chicken welfare standards laid out in the European Chicken Commitment (ECC) by 2026.

The Humane League UK has commended wagamama’s commitment, which it says will drastically improve the lives of chickens in its supply chain.

The commitment was released in conjunction with the company’s new summer menu.

Ross Farquhar, chief marketing officer for wagamama, said: “More and more we’re seeing our guests choose to eat more mindfully, whether that’s by reducing how often they have meat or selecting restaurants that bring food to their plates responsibly and sustainably.

"In the spirit of continuous improvement, or ‘kaizen’, we’re striving to lead the change, provide more and more innovative plant-based dishes and be true to the ‘positive eating, positive living’ ethos we were founded on.”

The European Chicken Commitment contains six measures addressing the major issues encountered in standard EU chicken production.

The measures include prohibiting the use of fast-growing breeds, reducing overcrowding, and adding environmental enrichment to provide better conditions for chickens.

Vicky Bond, MD for The Humane League UK, said: “We applaud wagagama for this positive and meaningful step for chicken welfare across Europe. And, we can't wait to try their impressive new plant-based options.

"It really is so encouraging to witness this growing number of companies not only turning their backs on intensively farmed animal products, but making it easier for their customers to leave animals off their plate every day."

The chain’s new plant-based options include a vegan egg, developed by pioneering plant-based chef Gaz Oakley.

According to wagamama, the company has seen a greater than 60 per cent increase in the number of customers choosing a vegan option as their main dish over the last year.

In pledging to meet the ECC criteria, wagamama joins the ranks of an increasing number of companies looking to create meaningful change for chickens in their supply chains, including Pret a Manger, Prezzo, ASK Italian, Zizzi, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose.