British chef Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall is taking his concern over battery-raised chickens all the way to the boardroom of the Tesco supermarket chain. According to an article in the UK Independent, “As part of the campaign to raise standards for the UK’s 800 million broiler chickens, Fearnley-Whittingstall is demanding Tesco meet RSPCA standards on chickens or abandon its claim to fulfil [sic] the Government’s aspirations on animal welfare.”
Chef F-W submitted his motion before the company’s May 16 deadline, but Tesco had already sent out its packets of board meeting paperwork to its members. The supermarket chain insisted the chef pay for the costs to mail his resolution to the shareholders—all 269,000 of them. That’s a post office bill of £86,888 (about $169,000).
Note to Tesco: Do not tempt a determined man. Fearnley-Whittingstall offered to pay £30,000 (roughly $58,000) himself. He then set up an online website asking for donations to cover the remaining costs, and organized an auction as well (apparently a fishing trip for 10 with the chef himself goes for a cool £10,000 [$19,000] these days). Why the passion? Fearnley-Whittingstall says, “This is not just about animal welfare—it raises the question of how huge public corporations communicate with, and hold themselves accountable to, their shareholders and customers.”
The money has been raised and submitted to Tesco, which says, through its spokesperson, “We have received the funds from Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall and we are currently discussing the resolution with him.”
Doesn’t the company sound enthusiastic about change?