Marks and Spencer has announced a big ethical change for its chicken supplies.
The department store is the first major UK retailer to move all its chicken lines over to slower-growing breeds.
The changes will come over the next 12 months, with the retailer planning for all the chicken it sells to be sourced from British, RSPCA Assured farms that employ dietary practices that ensure their birds grow at a slower rate than standard broilers by autumn 2022.
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Slower-growing of chickens means their legs are not placed under undue pressure.
The company said the decision to switch to 100% slower-reared fresh chicken across its full range would be a “significant investment”.
“M&S has a long history of leading on animal welfare standards,” said M&S Food MD Stuart Machin.
“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 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.”
RSPCA CEO Chris Sherwood described M&S’s move as a “landmark achievement for animal welfare”.
M&S signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment a pledge in 2017.
Those involved in the pledge have to raise their baseline standards of welfare by meeting six requirements for 100% of their broiler chickens by 2026.