All our piglets are born outside
That's the meaning of ‘outdoor-bred', a term used on our packaging. Waitrose was the first supermarket to promise all piglets on its farms were born outside. Their mothers, the breeding sows, live their whole lives outdoors in the fresh air – no exceptions.
All our fresh pork comes from British farmers we know and trust – and that includes sausages, bacon, British ham, gammon and any ingredients in prepared food and ready meals, such as sandwiches and pies.
The commitment to high standards of animal welfare on our farms wins awards, such as the Good Pig Award from Compassion in World Farming. Look out for our animal welfare marque on our own-label meat and fish.
Breeding sows on pig farms that supply Waitrose live outside in the fresh air
We strive to keep our pigs happy
- All our piglets are born outside in the fresh air, with individual straw-bedded huts for shelter.
- Our breeding sows live outdoors in the fresh air for their entire lives. We never use confinement stalls or farrowing crates, and we never will.
- Pigs reared for our Essential pork have comfortable, light and airy barns lined with fresh straw. They have more room to move around than the industry standard set by Red Tractor.
- We avoid tail docking and teeth clipping, and only ever allow it when it’s recommended by a specialist vet for the benefit of the pig – for example to prevent tail biting, or to protect a sow’s udder. We’re researching ways in which we can reduce the need for this even further.
- In recognition of the consistently high animal welfare standards upheld by our farmers, we have held Compassion in World Farming’s Good Pig award since its inception in 2012. We also beat 27 other retailers to be named Best Retailer in Europe in 2019, when we won the award for the third time in a row.
- All our pig farmers follow high animal welfare standards, which set out requirements on all aspects of how the animals live, from what they eat to the amount of outside space they have. As well as free range and organic, they cover pigs on farms supplying pork for the Essential Waitrose range, and the meat in ready-meals and pies.
- When it’s time for the animals to leave the farm, our dedicated processor, Dalehead, makes sure the journey takes as little time as possible. The average is 3.5 hours, which is under half the maximum eight hours required by Red Tractor. Our relationship with Dalehead goes back more than 25 years.
Meet the farmers
Michael and Ian Baker are committed to trying out ways to improve animal welfare on their Norfolk farm
If you’ve ever wondered what a contented pig looks like, look no further than Michael and Ian Baker’s Norfolk farm. Living in the open air, where they can dig about and wallow in mud as they please, these are very obviously happy animals. “We give them a good quality of life,” says Michael, “with lots of space to roam.”
The Baker brothers’ free-range pigs live in small herds, each on a two-acre plot, with a canvas tent for protection from sun and rain, straw beds and access to fresh water whenever they want it.
‘It’s very satisfying to see the result of all that hard work – healthy, contented stock'
In the 30-plus years the farmers have been supplying Waitrose, Ian and Michael have raised their already high welfare standards. “We’ve found better ways to do things and keep trying to improve,” says Michael.
Switching to feeding the sows from a long trough, rather than from the ground made a big difference. “It means in winter the sows can easily get to the food. It’s not just fired across a muddy field where it gets tramped in,” says Michael. It also makes sure the pushiest sows don’t – excuse the pun – hog the food. “Because they’re all eating in a line, it’s easier to check each sow is feeding,” says Ian.
“Our team here on the farm put in a lot of hard work and dedication, looking after the pigs the way we do,” says Michael. “It’s very satisfying to see the result of all that hard work – healthy, contented stock.”
Feeding time on Helen Mutimer's pig farm in Norfolk
Welfare standards for our European suppliers
Our continental own-label meats such as pâté, Spanish chorizo, German salami, Italian Parma ham and prosciutto are supplied by Winterbotham Darby, whose pig scheme exceeds European legislation on animal welfare standards. It has developed the first pan-European welfare standard, taking into account free farrowing, increased space and a stimulating environment throughout the supply chain, all of which won it a special recognition award from Compassion in World Farming.
Find out about the pork you buy
All the pork, including sausages, bacon and gammon, is from British farms from pigs that are outdoor-bred. This means piglets are born outside before they are moved into light and airy straw-bedded buildings with more room than the industry standard. The sows live outside in the fresh air for their entire lives.
No.1 free range
Like all our pigs, free-range pigs are born outside. The sows are given their own hut where they raise their litter until they’re four weeks old. Once the piglets are weaned, they’re allowed to range freely outside in grassy paddocks, with straw-bedded arcs to shelter in. Each animal has a minimum of 36 square metres.
Waitrose Duchy Organic
These pigs have the same high welfare standards as free range pigs, but are raised to approved organic standards. They are fed on organic food and allowed to roam freely on organically farmed land.
More like this
Free range egg-laying hens
They're all free range – and have been since 2008 – and looked after by farmers we know and trust.
How our lambs are reared
They're with their mothers on British farms until weaning and then in groups outside, feeding on grass and forage.
Chickens with more room to roam
They are all reared by British farmers, who share our commitment to high standards of animal welfare.