M&S first major retailer to sell only fresh higher welfare chicken
M&S will be the first major retailer to sell only slower-reared, higher welfare, chicken across its full range of fresh chicken products.
M&S food managing director, Stuart Machin said: “M&S has a long history of leading on animal welfare standards, working with our M&S Select farmers we know and trust. We were the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, the first major retailer to move to 100% Free Range eggs and all our pork is 100% outdoor bred.
“We already have the biggest range of RSPCA Assured products on the market but we constantly want to raise the bar – that is why we are making this industry-leading commitment. It will lead to a step-change in UK farming standards and show customers that our determination to maintain the highest welfare standards means they will always get exceptional quality and trusted value at M&S.”
M&S was the first retailer to sign up to the BCC in early 2018 and it is the first to start its transition in earnest by securing a commercial deal with its supplier to convert all their current Oakham chicken to Oakham Gold, under the RSPCA Assured label, for 100% of their fresh supply by Autumn 2022 with their processed and ingredient chicken meeting the 2026 BCC deadline.
This landmark deal involves the gradual laying down of breeding flocks to deliver the 23.5 million meat chickens of the higher welfare, slower growing Hubbard breed needed for the M&S fresh supply.
Currently, Waitrose is the only other British retailer to have signed up to the BCC, and although there has been traction in the foodservice sector with major brands like KFC, Nando’s and Burger King signing up, transition and roll out is still to materialise.
Dr Tracey Jones, director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said: “We congratulate M&S for the example they have set; the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, the first to start transitioning supply, and the first to roll out entry-tier product on shelf with their ‘Oakham Gold’ fresh chicken. M&S wholeheartedly deserve their Special Recognition Award from us this year!
“It is imperative that other retailers and more food service businesses follow their lead, not just by signing up to the BCC but by acting on it. Making commitments across the entire supply chain is a major step towards raising baseline standards, but only once concrete plans and contracts with suppliers are in place will the market truly move forwards and affect real change for chickens.”