Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver built his legacy preaching at the altar of fresh food. By encouraging families to cook “fresh, real food,” Oliver won over scores of fans among nutritionists, healthy eaters, and well-fed families. But now he has sold out for a deal with one of the world’s biggest chicken producers, Sadia, to produce ready-made frozen meals.
Sadia is a Brazilian chicken-rearing company that accounts for nearly 20 percent of the world’s chicken supply. Its deal with Oliver is worth $15.1 million.
However, all that money won’t be able to repair the damage the deal has done to Oliver’s image. Elisabetta Recine, coordinator of the Observatory of Food Security and Nutrition Policies and a professor at the School of Nutrition at the University of Brasília, said Oliver had betrayed the narrative that he had built. “Jamie Oliver won’t make Sadia better but Sadia will make Jamie Oliver worse,” she said.
Animal welfare groups have also spoken out against the deal, with one Brazilian group writing, “Jamie Oliver, the world is disappointed in you.” As a chain linked to intensive production, Sadia had to improve its welfare standards for Oliver to consider working with the company.
Oliver has acknowledged the criticism, but views this as an opportunity. His goal is to create change on a larger scale, and to Oliver, that larger scale needs a larger stage. Enter Sadia.
In a statement sent to The Telegraph, Oliver explained his choice: “Everything I do has to have purpose in the food industry, and right at the heart of my partnership with Sadia is a massive system change of better chicken welfare standards at scale in Brazil.
"We're revolutionising the frozen food category with better quality food and have already made a positive difference to the standards of over 40 million Brazilian chickens. And that's just the start.”