Celebrity chef and food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has set up an online auction to raise cash in order to challenge Tesco on its claims about poultry welfare.
The supermarket chain told Fearnley-Whittingstall, who last month bought one share in the company, that he would need to find £86,888 if he wanted to add a discussion about minimum welfare standards for chickens to the agenda at the next Annual General Meeting.
“Tesco have told me that they will only take our resolution to the AGM if I meet the cost of distributing the relevant papers to their shareholders,” wrote Fearnley-Whittingstall on the Chicken Out website.
“They are entitled to waive this fee, and we have requested that they do so, in the interest of shareholder democracy, but they have declined. In other words, the resolution is dead in the water unless I pay them £86,888 to print and post the papers out to all 269,000 Tesco shareholders.”
The chef is putting forward £30,000 of his own money and is hoping to raise the rest of the money by Wednesday through the auction and from donations.
So far on his campaign to encourage poultry farmers to lower stocking densities and rear more birds outdoors, Fearnley-Whittingstall has persuaded more consumers to buy free range and organic, but despite securing talks with the majority of supermarkets, has so far failed to do the same with Tesco.
He said: “Tesco is the biggest retailer in the country and they can make the biggest difference to the lives of hundreds of millions of chickens. And so I’m determined, along with my fellow supporting shareholders and Chicken Out campaigners, to pursue this resolution. So I’m putting my money where my mouth is to take this issue all the way to the Tesco AGM on June 27.”