Free Range Chicken

Free-range farmers seek growth, gourmet status

Growers of free-range chicken are expanding their operations with a view to posting a 5-percent growth this year and the product getting classified as gourmet food.

The sector grew less than 0.5 percent last year.

“We’re quite focused on the A, B market. We want to be classified as gourmet, basically, because our chickens cost double than the regular White Leghorn being sold in supermarkets and wet markets,” Arestina Morados-Papillon, president of Philippine Association of Free-range Poultry Advocates Inc., said Monday.

Free-range chickens, though not necessarily organic, often have colorful feathers and are considered mature at 56 to 81 days, giving the birds a premium price. The term refers to growing poultry in an open pasture, while the industrial method raises birds in a cramped coops.

“Hopefully, we can export too. There are markets in Europe that are now into this slow-growing chicken thing,” Morados-Papillon said.

In an effort to evolve as an authority on free-range chicken cultivation, the group is now drafting a standard for free-range poultry raising.

The association said it wants to be accredited in the global market as the frontrunner in the propagation of free-range chicken in the Philippines.

Bounty Fresh Food Inc., Solraya’s Sunshine Chicken, and Pamora Farm are the popular commercial growers of free-range chicken in the Philippines. The three, together with about a hundred smaller farms, make up the association.

Pamora Farm in Abra province sells about 3,000 dressed, free-range chickens per day at P240 per kilo.

Bounty Fresh’s Kenneth Chen, who is also the association’s vice president, said his company produces free-range chicken through contract-growing deals with farmers.

“We have a number of contract growers nationwide. In exchange for their service, we supply them with the chicks, feed and technical support to successfully grow out the chicken to commercial size,” he said.

Bounty Fresh, a division of Bounty Agro-Ventures Inc., also produces animal feed and chicken eggs. VIA, GMANews.TV