Family-owned Bartter Enterprises has revealed plans to introduce labels on its branded chicken product declaring it hormone-free and barn-reared.

Coming just over two years after Barter’s acquisition of the Steggles brand from Goodman Fielder Ltd, which was then Australia’s second-biggest poultry producer behind Inghams, the labels have been designed to head off negative consumer perceptions about the industry’s production methods, such as the anecdotal use of growth hormones.

The main players in Australia’s A$3bn chicken industry have traditionally opposed such labelling strategies, fearing that they could heighten consumer concerns, but Bartter’s CEO Geoff Frost stressed that the new labels are perceived as largely preventive.

Only 10% of Bartter’s production is marketed under its own label, but the company shares control of around a third of the 400m chickens produced annually in Australia.