The research, carried out by Kantar Worldpanel for RSPCA Freedom Food, revealed a rise in consumer spending on Freedom Food-labelled chicken, from 16.4m to 71.6m, since March last year. This compares to a drop of more than 26m for standard chicken.
The RSPCA said the research was proof that animal welfare was influencing consumers, helped by high-profile campaigns by TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Leigh Grant, Freedom Food's chief executive, said: "We expected an increase in sales of Freedom Food chicken after Jamie and Hugh highlighted the benefits of buying higher welfare in 2008 – but these results far exceed anything we could have predicted."
"They are absolute proof that chicken welfare is of paramount importance to more people than ever before."