The company was recognised with our Good Chicken Award in 2010 for committing to rear chickens in its fresh meat supply to lower stocking densities and with the provision of natural light and enrichments.
M&S has now committed to providing all its chickens with more space to live (by moving to 30kg/m2 stocking density), to farming an approved slower growing breed of bird with better welfare outcomes, and enhancing some of the enrichment provisions.
Other requirements, such as the provision of natural daylight, perches and pecking substrates, that give the birds a varied and stimulating environment, as well as gas stunning, and third party auditing, are already met by their fresh Oakham chicken.
M&S will now work with all their suppliers to ensure they can meet the enhanced welfare requirements across all their fresh, frozen and ingredient chicken by 2026.
M&S has said that these changes must be sustainable and that is why they will begin a series of trials in January designed to test the new standards and see how they work in a commercial farming supply chain and ultimately how they are received by the consumer.
Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture at M&S said: “Animal welfare is at the heart of our business and we know how important it is to our customers. It is our responsibility to push the boundaries to ensure we can deliver high quality, great value chicken, now and in the future.
Finding the right suppliers to support us on this journey is vitally important, we need to make sure we’re working with the best and most committed. I look forward to working with Compassion and our supply chain farmers to help us meet our commitments. Ultimately, we need to do what’s right for our customers, our farmers and for our chickens.”
Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion said: “I am delighted by the commitment M&S has made today. It demonstrates not only a real understanding of the welfare issues in broiler production but a real positive will to do something about them.
Their leadership is to be admired and we will continue to work closely with the M&S team to successfully implement these standards for chicken. We need more businesses to follow their lead and more consumers to support higher welfare farming through their purchasing choices, if higher welfare is to become the norm."
M&S are traditionally known for their quality and high standards - for the past two years they have been ranked in ‘tier one’ of the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare for their higher welfare policies, practices and performance.