£150,000 a Year Cost to Curry Chain for Going Free Range

£150,000 a Year Cost to Curry Chain for Going Free Range

A leading chain of Indian restaurants is switching to free range chicken at a personal cost to the owner of £150,000 a year – after he watched TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s impassioned TV plea last week.

Jamal Hirani, CEO and founder of Tiffinbites, says the move – which will increase food costs at his group of London restaurants by around £3,000 a week – is in direct response to the plight of intensively reared broiler chickens highlighted by Fearnley-Whittingstall in his series ‘Hugh’s Chicken Run’, screened on Channel 4 last week.

It will make Tiffinbites the UK’s first Indian restaurant group to go free range – and Jamal is promising menu prices will not increase to account for the higher chicken costs.

Jamal said: “Hugh’s Chicken Run series has really affected the nation. We immediately began receiving queries from customers as to the nature of the chicken we serve, and myself and all staff included instantly knew that we had to ensure all our poultry was free range. Although it’s challenging to source free range chicken, it’s a move that we hope other Indian restaurants will follow.”

Suppliers, however, are cashing in on the interested generated by the Channel 4 series with significant cost increases. A broiler chicken before would have set Tiffinbites back £1.88 per kg, but now this cost is set to rise to £4.88 per kg for free range birds.

Jamal added: “Poultry suppliers have been quick to spot the profit opportunity. Many restaurants may seek to maintain the higher costs by increasing menu prices. At Tiffinbites, however, we believe that our customers shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege of eating free range chicken, and as a result are committed to keeping our menu prices at the same level as before. We’re urging other Indian restaurants and food organisations to the same.”

For Tiffinbites, £3,000 a week is equivalent to a week’s staff wages in one restaurant or one ton of basmati rice. Each restaurant will need to serve an extra 600 meals week to account for the extra cost.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall described the move by Tiffinbites as ‘brilliant news’, adding: “Obviously the Indian restaurant sector accounts for phenomenal amounts of chicken sales – and mostly these are all standard, intensively farmed birds.

“We hope many other Indian restaurants, both independent and chains, will follow Tiffinbites excellent example, and decide to go free range.”

For more info on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign, visit www.chickenout.tv.

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