Retailer Waitrose has created a “marque” to highlight its award-winning credentials in making sure the livestock that goes into its pre-packed fresh products have had a good life.
The logo, 1st for Animal Welfare, features either a chicken, cow, pig, lamb or fish inside a heart shape and is being applied to a host of fresh products.
The company, which has received the Compassion in World Farming Best Retailer awards, as well as CIWF’s Good Egg and Chicken awards, has committed to selling only birds sourced to industry-leading high welfare standards.
That means all chickens – whether sold as whole birds, chicken pieces of ingredients in ready-meals and sandwiches – are reared with 20% more space than the industry standard and with straw bales to perch on to keep them fit and active. Free-range, organic and corn-fed organic birds conform to even higher standards with more space per bird and access to the outside for at least half of their lives.
The company highlights how it hasn’t sold any eggs laid by caged hens since 2001 and became the first UK supermarket to sell only free-range from 2008. It has its own breed of hen, the British Blacktail, an active bird that is well suited to life outdoors.
Jemima Jewell, partner and corporate responsibility lead, said: “The new marque is a pledge to customers of our animal welfare standards. We work closely with our UK farmers to ensure that all the livestock that provide the meat products we sell are reared to high welfare standards, and we have an unrivalled pedigree of good animal welfare practices.”
Emily McGowan, a sixth-generation poultry farmer from a small, mixed farm at Killinchy, County Down, Northern Ireland, is the campaign voice for Waitrose’s producers in the promotion. She says working with Waitrose helps the family because “as long as we do things right, we’re guaranteed a good price. It means we can give the birds a better life, and the customer gets better chicken.”
McGowan said the family had been rearing chickens for Waitrose for some time as animal welfare was a large part of the attraction of supplying the company: “The live in light, airy houses, with 20% more space than the industry standard and good ventilation and heating, so the floor’s always nice and dry for them. They’ve got access to feed and water all of the time and we give them straw bales to play with. They’re completely mesmerised by the bales – they really have a lot of fun with those.”