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Waitrose first to announce leading animal welfare standards across Italian continental meat

Posted: 6th September 2023
  • Waitrose is number one for animal welfare across the UK and latest move puts the supermarket in top spot for Italian charcuterie welfare standards
  • All own brand Italian continental meat suppliers meet Compassion in World Farming prestigious Good Pig Award standards
  • Waitrose hopes progress will urge other retailers to raise the bar on welfare for continental meats

In an industry leading move, Waitrose has announced that all of its own brand Italian continental meat is now produced to the highest animal welfare standards – beating all other supermarkets.

This means shoppers can enjoy Waitrose Parma ham, Mortadella or Prosciutto knowing the Italian animals have lived a life free from confinement, with more room to roam and socialise and with deep straw bedding to root around in.

Traditionally, animal welfare standards for continental meat have lagged behind those of British meats. However, a long term partnership between Waitrose and our supplier, The Compleat Food Group means that we were the first Italian meat producer to win a Good Pig Award back in 2016, and now we have rolled out our high standards across all Italian producers.

Jake Pickering, Senior Manager for Agriculture at Waitrose, said: “We’re already the number one supermarket for animal welfare in the world* and are delighted this move helps us raise the bar even further.

“We are confinement free in UK farming, and have a 2025 commitment for all of our continental meat. This represents a huge step forward for the welfare standards within our Italian breeding, growing and finishing supply chains and means that well over 50% of our continental meat sales will now come from higher welfare pigs.

“We have worked with our Italian suppliers to improve standards significantly and they have the backing of Compassion in World Farming’s Good Pig Award.”

Louise Valducci, Head of Food Business (Europe), Compassion in World Farming, said: “We are encouraged by the steps Waitrose is taking to improve the welfare of pigs in its continental meat supply. It highlights the importance of working closely with producers, giving them the confidence and support to invest in cage-free systems, to ensure a successful transition across the business.

“Consumers are increasingly concerned about animal welfare and any company committing to cage-free production is sending a powerful signal to the market that it is not only the compassionate choice, but also achievable at scale.”

In 2017 Waitrose was awarded the ‘Cage Free Award’ by Compassion in World Farming. This was in recognition of our work to remove the use of cages for farm animals. In 2001 we stopped selling eggs from caged hens, and we only sell outdoor-bred or free range British pork. We also pledged to improve the welfare standards within our continental meat supply chain by 2025 by removing all confinement.

In support of Waitrose’s Cage Free award from Compassion in World Farming, all our continental pigs will be free from confinement including prohibiting sow stalls and farrowing crates by 2025.

We will continue making progress on welfare in our other continental meat supply chains to hit our 2025 target. We would encourage other retailers to follow our lead to ensure British shoppers can enjoy delicious and ethically sourced charcuterie.

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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