Waitrose has announced the implementation of elevated animal welfare standards for its own-brand Italian continental meat products. In a statement, the retailer maintains that it has exceeded the standards set by its competitors.

The company says shoppers can now indulge in its Italian meat offerings, such as Parma ham, Mortadella, and Prosciutto, with the assurance that the animals behind these products have enjoyed a life free from confinement.

These animals, according to Waitrose, benefit from spacious environments for socialising, ample room to roam, and comfortable deep straw bedding for rooting.

Closing the Gap: elevating welfare standards for continental meats

Historically, animal welfare standards for continental meat lagged behind those for British meats. However, Waitrose, in partnership with its supplier, The Compleat Food Group, became the first Italian meat producer to achieve the prestigious Good Pig Award in 2016.

Now, these high welfare standards have been extended across all Italian producers in Waitrose’s portfolio.

Jake Pickering, Senior Manager for Agriculture at Waitrose, expressed the supermarket’s commitment to elevating animal welfare standards. “We are confinement free in UK farming and have a 2025 commitment for all of our continental meat.

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“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.”

Louise Valducci, Head of Food Business (Europe) at Compassion in World Farming, praised Waitrose’s efforts to enhance the welfare of pigs in their continental meat supply.

Waitrose encourages other retailers to follow suit

Valducci emphasised the importance of collaboration with producers, enabling them to transition to cage-free systems successfully. “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,” she added.

Over the years, the supermarket has ceased the sale of eggs from caged hens, opted for outdoor-bred or free-range British pork, and pledged to enhance welfare standards in their continental meat supply chain by 2025 by eliminating all forms of confinement.

“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.”