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Casos de estudio

Utilising end-of-lay hens for chicken meat - 2015

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Utilising end-of-lay hens for chicken meat – a sustainable partnership

Borne out of an inspirational partnership between an egg producer, a food developer, a sandwich processor and a leading international airline, an innovative, sustainable supply chain for higher welfare chicken was created utilising the meat from end-of-lay hens. As a result, from 2013, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was able to start offering higher welfare chicken sandwiches on all of its Western European flights using the meat from ex-laying hens from the ‘Rondeel’ system.

The Rondeel system

Rondeel is an enriched barn system for laying hens, owned by the Dutch Vencomatic Group. The system offers both day and night quarters which are designed to fulfil the hen’s behavioural needs, such as nesting, perching and dustbathing, in a varied environment. The hens typically finish laying at 76 weeks when they are slaughtered and the meat is usually exported overseas for generic products such as soup. There are currently four Rondeel farms in the Netherlands, and this higher welfare system is also available for franchise.

Click here to view an outline of the Rondeel system for laying hens.

Creating sustainability in the layer industry

Rondeel has always been interested in creating a sustainable future for the layer industry. Together with food development company Kokreateur, in 2011 Rondeel began dicussions with sandwich producers Qizini to investigate how they could utilise the meat from their hens when they had come to the end of their laying period.

This was the start of an innovative new supply chain which was co-created by both companies to create a more sustainable market for chicken meat from ex-laying hens.

In May 2012, Rondeel invested 50,000 euros on some research to test the feasibility of using their ex-layers for chicken meat. By the end of 2012, Qizini – who has been making convenience products such as sandwiches, wraps, paninis, grilled sandwiches and salads since 1997 – officially joined the project.

Qizini strives to use natural ingredients wherever possible and limits its use of meat to animals that have been raised under humane conditions. After further discussions and feedback from Rondeel, Qizini believed this was a concept worth investing in.

Research and development

Rondeel System
Rondeel System with Lohmann Brown Lite breed of hen

Qizini’s new product developers have extensive experience of the taste preferences of airline passengers, having been a long-standing supplier to KLM. As part of this partnership they undertook a number of in-house taste trials to ensure the final product would be well received by consumers.

The partners discovered that using an older bird tends to make the meat darker, with a much stronger flavour than the meat normally produced from broiler chickens. Herbs were added in the meat cooking process to get the right flavour and colour.

Various taste trials were conducted to ensure that the taste, colour and texture of the meat met consumer acceptability whilst still being affordable. After three months of trials and adjustments an end product was achieved and accepted by both companies.

Not only had they developed a product that was fully accepted under taste trials, they had developed a thinly sliced meat from a 2kg bird that produced more end-product than a normal broiler chicken – making affordability stretch even further.

Peter Koelewijn, General Manager at Rondeel said:

It was a risk to invest in a project that may not have worked. We conducted many taste trials until the product was right but all the time we had 100% belief that the concept was viable and that we would find a solution. It is our company ethos to provide our hens with the best life possible and we wanted to develop a more sustainable concept which meant making their lives more meaningful than just laying eggs.

Meeting KLM’s higher welfare requirements

Qizini has been a long-term supplier to KLM for the sandwiches served on-board European flights. In 2013, as part of a new tender for its sandwiches, KLM challenged Qizini to include chicken meat from a higher welfare system, in line with KLM’s Good Chicken Award from Compassion in World Farming. In addition to meeting these higher welfare standards, Qizini developed a new concept of ‘local farmers feeding the world’ where all ingredients used in the sandwiches were locally sourced, ethical produce which met KLM’s wider sustainability goals and that could ‘tell a story’.

In response to the tender, Qizini invested in a marketing video to ‘sell in’ its product offer by ‘telling the story’ of the provenance of all the ingredients used in their sandwiches, including the higher welfare chicken meat from the Rondeel system.

Qizini’s Commercial Manager, Frank Vos said,

As one of KLM’s suppliers, we know that ethical sourcing is key for the food they offer to customers on board their flights. We were very excited about the prospect of being able to offer something a bit different – a product which truly values the life of laying hens, which are raised under such humane conditions. All of the ingredients that go into our sandwiches for KLM use the most natural, local ingredients and through this partnership we are able to use local farmers to feed the world.

Qizini supplies approximately 3.5m chicken sandwiches to KLM each year, which equates to 80-90% of the end-of-lay hens from the Rondeel system (approximately 90,000 hens per year). The whole bird is utilised within this supply chain as Qizini uses any excess birds for its other product ranges outside the KLM sandwich supply.

KLM is ambitious about its Corporate Social Responsibility and innovation is a top priority. As such they are in constant dialogue with their partners and suppliers to ensure their social and environmental commitments are fulfilled.

The key driver behind this project was the real commitment from all parties involved. Through its tender process, KLM helped create the demand for higher welfare chicken. By working in close partnership with its suppliers they had full transparency of the supply chain for their sandwiches and were able to source a viable, sustainable product that met all their ethical goals, and one which has been warmly received by KLM’s customers.

Communicating higher welfare

We loved the concept of using this chicken meat in our sandwiches. It’s one that truly values the hens’ lives and is a great story to tell. By rationalising our on-board food offer and reducing the variety of sandwich flavours we use, we are now able to provide our customers high quality, ethical food at the same cost.

We feel it’s important to share with our customers that we source ethical ingredients for our in-flight meals and communicate this clearly on the sandwiches we serve on board. Interestingly, since we have put our new sandwich supply in place, it’s the first time we have received any feedback from our customers – via our crew, letters and emails – and it’s all been positive. Through this partnership, we have been able to meet our sustainability goals affordably and will strive to seek out further sustainable sourcing opportunities in future.

Roel Verwiel, Food & Beverage Manager at KLM

Klm Sandwich Box
KLM in-flight chicken sandwich box

In addition to animal welfare and ethically sourced ingredients, KLM also focusses on sustainable fish, soy and palm oil. Requirements on these ingredients that are also met by Qizini.

By working together, Rondeel, Kokreateur and Qizini were able to provide KLM with a secure higher welfare chicken supply which was affordable for all and which met all their aims of supplying sustainable food for the future, and more importantly making the most of the laying hens’ lives.

There were three key elements to the success of this partnership:

  1. The openness to truly believe in an idea in order to invest in its success
  2. Working closely together with open communication so that all parties understood each part of supply chain
  3. Communicating the importance of ethically sourced food to customers to create transparency and trust

Click here to download a copy of the case study.

Company backgrounds


Rondeel Logo

Rondeel is an enriched barn system for laying hens, owned by the Dutch Vencomatic Group. Vencomatic Group offers a full range of innovative systems for equipping modern poultry farms all over the world. They constantly look for alternative solutions, developing sustainable and poultry friendly products. The Vencomatic Group has over 350 committed employees who serve thousands of customers worldwide.

The Rondeel  system accomodates chickens in an manner that pays close regard to both animal welfare and the environment, while also catering to all the birds’ natural requirements.

There are currently four Rondeel farms located in the Netherlands, and the system is also available for franchise. Rondeel eggs are sold to consumers in Albert Heijn retail stores, at an intermediate price between free-range and organic eggs. Rondeel eggs are also used in the well known dutch restaurant chain ‘La place’ and used in different catering organisations.

Kokreateur Logo

Kokreateur develops its own food products and products for third parties. The company invents food concepts and develops new products that focus in particular on the use of raw materials such as egg, fish, dairy and meat, and the production processes involved to ensure the best tasting food for its partners and customers.

Qizini Logo E1412082178512

Qizini has been making convenience products such as sandwiches, wraps, paninis, grilled sandwiches and salads since 1997. The company strives to use natural ingredients wherever possible and limits its use of meat to animals that have been raised under humane conditions.

With approximately 400 employees in Germany, Belgium and France, Qizini supplies both leading Dutch and international customers with products under its own brand – Qizini – as well as under private labels. Its production facilities are located in Alphen aan de Rijn and Losser in The Netherlands.

Qizini products are available in supermarkets, food to go outlets, at petrol stations and also on board aircraft such as KLM


KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was founded on 7 October 1919 to serve the Netherlands and its colonies. Today KLM is the oldest airline still operating under its original name. KLM has been part of the AIR FRANCE KLM group since the merger in 2004.

Corporate Social Responsibility is vital to KLM’s pioneering position and CSR is embedded at all levels of the organisation. KLM is not only concerned with healthy commercial profits, but is also committed to a sustainable society and to care for the environment, both at home and abroad. For several years now, this has earned KLM the No. 1 listing in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

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Rondeel 3

Casos de estudio

Rondeel: Rearing Laying Hens without Beak Trimming - 2014

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Background: Beak Trimming and Feather Pecking in Laying Hens

Injurious feather pecking is a major welfare problem in laying hens which can occur in all types of rearing systems, including free-range systems that have a higher welfare potential. In the most severe cases it can lead to cannibalism. In order to reduce the risk of feather pecking and cannibalism, hens are usually beak trimmed. This consists of amputating one third to a half of the bird’s beak using a red hot blade or infra-red beam. Beak trimming leads to tissue and nerve damage and is associated with acute pain, irrespective of the method used.

Insufficient opportunity to carry out foraging behaviour is widely accepted as a primary risk factor for feather pecking. However, the causes of this abnormal behaviour are multi-factorial with risk factors – including genetics, environment, health and management. It is therefore important to address them all in order to prevent injurious pecking and to successfully operate a laying hen rearing system without the need to beak trim.

The Rondeel system is a unique barn system, with many features in which the hens are not beak trimmed. This case study highlights the key features and management aspects of this system which make it possible to rear laying hens with beaks intact, without  resulting in injurious feather pecking.

Overview of the Rondeel Barn System

Rondeel is an enriched barn system for laying hens, owned by the Dutch Venco Group. There are currently three Rondeel farms located in The Netherlands, and the system is also available for franchise. Rondeel eggs are mainly sold in Albert Heijn retail stores, at an intermediate price between free-range and organic.

Illustration of circular Rondeel system

A Rondeel barn accommodates 30,000 birds and has a characteristic circular design split into 10 sub-units, each housing 3,000 hens (see illustration on the left).

Each unit is divided into three distinct areas in order to better address the hens’ behavioural and mental needs and give them the freedom to choose their environment.

The three distinct areas

Multi-tiered night quarters

1. Multi-tiered night quarters with three separate levels for feeding, nesting and egg laying, and perching (see picture on the left). The bottom tier is composed of a layer of litter for scratching and dust-bathing. The second tier incorporates nesting boxes while the third tier provides aerial perches, allowing birds to feel safe whilst resting. Feeding stations are provided on the first and third tiers.

Spacious day quarters

2.  Spacious day quarters (or veranda – see picture on the right) which provide more space than is required by EU regulation – 6.7 birds/m2 vs. 9 birds/m2 – and natural light (transparent ceiling). This area is covered in artificial grass and grain is scattered every morning to encourage foraging. Dust bathing areas are provided with open-sided screens.

Enclosed outdoor area

3.  An enclosed outdoor area (see picture on the left) enriched with wood trunks and access to soil for dust bathing. When open, this area reduces the indoor stocking density to 5.2 birds/m2, providing a very generous space allowance. The area is covered with netting to prevent wild birds from entering the system and spreading disease. Tree trunks have been provided to create opportunities for perching and hiding.

Keys to success: How Rondeel has managed to stop beak trimming

Housing features

Several features of the Rondeel barn design are key to preventing injurious pecking, including:

  • multi-tier system in the night quarters, which provides a more complex environment than a single-tier system, and is more similar to the chicken’s natural woodland habitat.
  • Aerial perches help prevent feather pecking as they create opportunities for resting and refuge by enabling resting birds to avoid being pecked by foraging birds. They also avoid mixing active and inactive birds by providing distinct resting areas.
  • Ranging opportunities - the whole length of the house can be opened for the birds to go outside. Ranging is encouraged in the day quarters by scattering grain daily and providing natural light in a fully covered area – allowing the hens to range while being protected from adverse weather. The provision of wood trunks and wood shavings and the presence of a sandy surface and drainage system to avoid puddles also help to increase the use of the outdoor run. Finally, the presence of drinking points in the day quarters, encourage the birds to range in this area. Increased use of the range is strongly associated with a reduced risk of feather pecking.
  • Plenty of environmental enrichment with the provision of nesting boxes and aerial perches in the night quarters, dust bathing areas, artificial grass in the day quarters, wood trunks and wood shavings in the outside run. This diverse and interesting environment is important to allow the expression of a range of natural behaviours such as foraging, perching and dust bathing, which helps prevent injurious pecking.
  • lower stocking density gives the birds more space; 9 birds/min the night quarters, reducing to 6.7 birds/m2 when the day quarters are open and down to 5.2 birds/m2 when the outdoor run is also open.
  • Provision of adequate litter in the night quarters, which has been shown to reduce the incidence of feather pecking. The artificial grass in the day quarters is also a unique addition which encourages the hens to scratch, peck, rest and range.
  • Climate control, with sensors placed on the rolling doors that separate the day and night quarters, controlling the opening of the doors according to the temperature and creating a uniform climate between the day and night quarters, helps encourage the hens into the day quarters to range and forage.
  • Reducing group size within the barn which is divided into 10 sub-groups. The risk of feather pecking is generally lower in hens that are kept in smaller groups than in larger flocks as they are able to establish stable social interactions.

Feeding regime and opportunities for foraging

  • Daily scattering of grain, which provides an opportunity for natural foraging behaviour. Increasing the length of time the birds spend foraging and feeding is likely to reduce the incidence of feather pecking.

Genetics and breeding

  • The use of the Lohmann Brown Lite breed, which seems to have a lower propensity to feather peck. 

Key Learnings and Take Home Messages

As successfully demonstrated in the Rondeel barn system, it is possible to stop beak trimming without resulting in injurious feather pecking. This can be achieved with a good housing and feeding system, a varied environment, appropriate choice of genetics, good flock management and climate control.

Key aspects to successfully stop beak trimming and reduce the risk of feather pecking in a cage-free rearing system include:

  • Creating opportunities for resting and refuge and avoiding mixing active and inactive birds, especially through the provision of aerial perches
  • Providing ranging opportunities and encouraging the use of the range, especially through the provision of environmental enrichment and outdoor tree cover
  • Increasing the length of time the birds spend engaged in foraging and feedingespecially through the daily scattering of grain or feeding a high fibre, low-energy diet of mash rather than pellets
  • Choosing appropriate strains of hens, less prone to feather pecking, such as the Lohman Brown Lite breed.
Good housing and feeding system

Early experiences during the rearing period (before laying) should also be considered as they have a significant impact on the future tendency of the hens to feather peck. Housing, feeding and management conditions during the rearing and laying periods should be matched as closely as possible to reduce the risk of feather pecking later in life.

To find out more

For further information on beak trimming and reducing the risk of feather pecking in laying hens, you can consult our fully referenced technical resources:

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Unilever Logo Research Thumb

Casos de estudio

Unilever - A passion for Real food - 2011

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Their combined heritage is in real food and they understand how important simple, honest ingredients are to their customers and the most logical place to focus their attention was on a primary ingredient and to change to Good Eggs (cage free) throughout their entire product ranges.

Good Eggs and Compassion

Mayonnaise as a product is relatively basic, being an emulsion of oil, egg yolk, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard. Hellmann’s wanted to build in benefits to their products by improving the attributes of the ingredients. Over the last few years Hellmann’s have talked about the importance of honest ingredients and have focused consumers’ attentions to the oils that they use and the benefits of the naturally occurring Omega 3. Logically, the next focus is to another of the ingredients – eggs. Firstly, to build a relevant story around eggs they needed to explore consumers associations with cage-free eggs and what that could do to improve the perceptions of the product and brand.

Unilever commissioned some research across 6 countries with the aim of exploring consumer perceptions around eggs from different production methods (free range, barn, battery). Off the back of this research they focused their campaigns on positive messages around good, honest, real ingredients, natural, high quality and great tasting food – the very same attributes that consumers associate with ‘Good Eggs‘. It was decided that all marketing activity was to be devoted to championing the egg and the great taste that authentic ingredients like Good Eggs brings to mayonnaise.

Compassion began working with Unilever in 2008 with their move to cage-free eggs and awarded them a Good Egg Award for their commitments to improve the lives of an estimated 1,700,000 laying hens annually.

Amora France – outstanding results driven by their free-range message

Amora France has literally gone from strength to strength and the post launch evaluation of the move to free-range eggs stands testament to the commercial benefits of Good Eggs.

The campaign

The campaign centred around ‘Good Eggs’ as a key ingredient. Launch activity included PR and press from Feb through to June, TV spots in June and September and in-store and trade activity.

Amora Campaign

Real success

The overall Amora brand has become stronger as a result of the Good Egg campaign. More consumers who relate to the Amora brand believe that it is ‘made with good stuff’, ‘made with natural ingredients’ and ‘made with simple and real ingredients’.

All metrics are up from the 2008 to 2009 sales periods:

  • Value growth YtoY: +9.5%
  • Market share YtoY: +5.2%
  • Penetration rate: +11.0 %
  • Volume/buyer: +3.8%

Launching free-range mayonnaise for Amora has grown the French mayonnaise market and provided Unilever with more buyers buying more mayonnaise.

Overall, Amora achieved great market results and outperformed objectives.

The advantage of moving to free-range eggs has also been replicated by competitors. Maille, also a Unilever brand, uses free-range eggs and now so does Lesieur. These are the 2nd and 3rd most popular mayonnaise brands in France respectively. Along with Amora which is the market leading mayonnaise, free-range eggs dominate the entire category. This trend is seen not only in France but in other markets. For instance, Tesco’s own brand mayonnaise have recently updated their recipe to free-range eggs.

Positive promotion of welfare is good for business and for animals

Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé have been trading on ‘Realness’ for many years and have realised the opportunity of being able to further substantiate this claim. By the end of 2009, Hellmann’s, Calve and Amora converted to cage-free a year ahead of schedule across Western Europe and in 2010 Unilever expanded cage-free dressings to Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia). Unilever are on-track to meet their target of rolling cage-free across the entire European continent by 2012.

The success of cage-free eggs has also inspired the American market to make the commitment to go cage-free. In 2010 Hellmann’s light announced plans to change the recipe and use exclusively cage-free eggs in North America. Their aspiration is to secure stable supply in North America and change all the ‘Real Food’ mayonnaise recipes to cage-free.


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