Waitrose & Partners wins best retailer for animal welfare standards
Our animal welfare standards are some of the most stringent in the world. We know this because Waitrose & Partners has retained the award for best retailer in Europe for our farm animal welfare standards. We rear all of our livestock to certified higher welfare standards.
Animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) judged our standards better than those of 27 other retailers in Europe, including 10 in the United Kingdom.
CiWF uses its Supermarket Survey to judge the winner based on a company’s animal welfare standards for laying hens, broiler chickens, dairy cows and calves, sows and meat pigs and farmed fish.
Dr Tracey Jones, CiWF director of food business said; ‘We’ve been working closely with Waitrose & Partners for many years and have been impressed by their consistent determination to be the best when it comes to farm animal welfare. They continually strive to do what is right, both for the animals and for their customers, making them true leaders in Europe.’
We are proud to hold the following farm animal welfare awards from Compassion in World Farming:
• Best Retailer in Europe: 2019, 2017, 2015
• Best Retailer Marketing Award: 2019, 2017
• Inaugural Cage Free Award (held since 2017 and made possible by our partnership with Winterbotham Darby, who supply our authentic continental pig meat)
• The Good Pig Award (held since 2012)
• The Good Dairy Award (held since 2011)
• The Good Chicken Award (held since 2010)
• The Good Egg Award (held since 2008)
• Most Compassionate Supermarket: 2004, 2006, 2010
Read more about the CiWF retailer awards here
Our standards stack up against the global benchmark
Waitrose & Partners has retained its tier one ranking in 2019's Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW). The BBFAW is the leading global measure of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment, performance and disclosure in food companies.
We are one of only six businesses globally to achieve this and have moved up three rankings in the report since 2012.
At Waitrose & Partners, we believe that animal welfare and good business go hand in hand, because our customers expect and rely on us to be doing the right thing. Rearing livestock well and ensuring that high welfare standards apply throughout the animal’s life are vital to ensuring the quality of the meat and fish we sell.
We work closely with our UK farmers to ensure that all the livestock that provide the meat, poultry, eggs, milk and fish products we sell are reared to the very highest welfare standards.
The five freedoms form the core of our animal welfare standards but we are always looking at ways of developing and improving these.
1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
2. Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
5. Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering.
However, we believe we need to go beyond the universal five freedom measures of animal welfare.
Our approach to animal welfare
We recognise that as sentient beings animals have the ability to both feel pain and experience positive emotions such as joy and pleasure. As such, whilst we currently capture a breadth of welfare outcome measures we feel it is the right time to explore further measures such as those underpinning the freedom to express positive emotions. We have been actively working with independent industry experts including academics, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and animal welfare specialists to develop the extended list of outcome measures for each supply chain. In 2018, the expert panel, suppliers and ourselves formed the Waitrose Animal Welfare Development Group.
This has led us to a partnership with Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder from SRUC in Scotland who has been developing a welfare tool she calls Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA). The key concept behind this fits in with our own philosophy that “animals are not production systems to be managed”. They are fellow sentient beings and we must acknowledge the animal’s perspective on life. We must ask ourselves this question: “What can farm life be like for them?” Animals want to engage, choose, make decisions and become competent. They can create a life, not just consume resources.
The QBA system will allow us to equip our field teams – the people who go out on farm, day in and day out, to help keep an eye on our farms – with a virtual toolkit to record animal behaviours identified as being indicative of emotional wellbeing. We began trialing the system in September 2020 and plan to roll it out across all our farms during 2021.
The system will not allow us to see the world as animals do, but it will allow us to make better decisions about their environments and the way we treat them to help us make them feel more at home, comfortable and, dare we say, happier on farm.
On land and at sea
In our UK land-based livestock supply chains, Waitrose & Partners welfare requirements extend beyond basic Red Tractor Assurance with bespoke, independently verified standards that farmers must adhere to. Close confinement systems, including farrowing crates and caged hens, are not used and stocking densities are lower than average across the supply chain. Journey times are much shorter than the legal maximum, with Waitrose & Partners implementing our own maximum travel time requirements for some supply chains. We conduct our own assessments of farm management practices, and farms are independently audited by the relevant assurance schemes, supplemented by our own bespoke standards (detailed below). Our hauliers undergo livestock handling and welfare training and our slaughter sites are reviewed by the Humane Slaughter Association.
All our farmed fish suppliers, irrespective of geographic location, utilise certification standards such as Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Global Gap, Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices, RSPCA or recognised organic certification. We ensure all staff our welfare trained. Additionally, salmon, trout, sea bass and bream producers are assessed through our own Responsible Efficient Production Index (REP). The results of this are closely monitored and acted upon to maintain standards.
All supply chains are committed to eradicating on-farm mutilation with procedures such as fish fin clipping forbidden and pig tail docking only permitted with veterinary recommendation. We are committed to finding alternatives to all forms of livestock mutilation.
Production is kept as natural as possible by providing environmental and social enrichment. We use a high forage diet for ruminant species and make sure that dairy cows graze for at least 120 days out of the year. In fact, during 2019 our conventional (non-organic) dairy farmers managed to graze their herds for an average of 173 days, with our Organic dairy farmers averaging 209 days.
Our animal welfare policies, key performance indicator graphs and historical welfare outcomes across supply chains are shown below. These results are monitored by our farmers and processors. All of this is important to Waitrose & Partners, as we never buy livestock or meat on the open market. Instead we only work with farmers we know and trust and who share our values.
Our Agriculture Manager and Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager, in conjunction with the Waitrose Farming Partnership Livestock Steering Group (WFP LSG) and the Waitrose Farming Partnership Fish Forum (WFP FF), are charged with the overall responsibility for animal welfare in our supply chain. Members of the LSG are all livestock experts from Waitrose & Partners and its dedicated suppliers and our technical team has significant animal welfare training. Courses completed by our in-house team include Bristol University’s Poultry / Animal Welfare Officer training and the University of the Highlands and Islands’ course on Fish Welfare.
The John Lewis Partnership Ethics and Sustainability Committee, which includes Executive Directors and Directors of both Waitrose and Partners and John Lewis and Partners, has oversight of our corporate responsibility strategy and priority issues, including animal welfare. This ensures it is monitored at the highest level – the office of our Chairman, Sharon White.
Snapshot of our UK farms
All our policy commitments, and all of our reporting, unless explicitly stated otherwise, apply to 100% of our own-brand supply chains (fresh, frozen, ingredient) irrespective of geographic location.
These include all UK supply, New Zealand (NZ) lamb and venison and our authentic continental pig meat sourced from Europe via our partner Winterbotham Darby.
We have long-standing relationships with most of our livestock and fish suppliers, dating back more than 20 years – in some cases more than 30 years. Specific requirements for high standards of animal welfare are built into our formal contractual arrangements and closely monitored as part of our auditing and farm visit schedule. We work closely with our own-brand supply chains to ensure high standards are upheld. In addition to our ownbrand products, we also sell branded products in stores which are produced by a range of companies from household names to small local suppliers.
Branded goods represent approximately 45% of Waitrose sales by volume. Our influence over the policies and performance of branded goods is more limited. We are however, actively exploring how best to work with branded suppliers to influence positive change for animal welfare in the wider industry. Where we can drive improvements in animal welfare for branded products, we do.
We have already taken concrete steps to apply sustainability policies to high impact areas for branded goods. For example, we work with our branded tuna suppliers to improve their sustainability credentials. We are committed to ensuring that all our branded canned tuna is either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or pole and line caught. All Waitrose & Partners own-brand canned tuna has been pole and line caught since 2009 and MSC certified since 2013 – we are the only supermarket to maintain the MSC Pole and Line standard across our entire range, including ingredient. This builds on our own responsible fish sourcing programme which has been running for nearly 20 years.
For eggs, we do not sell any own-brand quail eggs or duck eggs. These branded products are from Clarence Court and produced from birds free from confinement and reared to higher welfare standards.
Waitrose & Partners recognises the potential risks to human healthcare of the overuse of antibiotics in livestock supply chains. That's why within the Waitrose & Partners supply chain, all antibiotics are used carefully, under strict protocols and only in controlled circumstances.
Healthy animals are not routinely given antibiotics, they are only used for treating illness or for those with preexisting conditions. We maintain that some antibiotics are important medicines to hold in the animal health armoury but they must be used sparingly. This is done under the close supervision of a veterinary surgeon as a last resort when other courses of action have proved ineffective and when welfare would be seriously compromised if they weren’t prescribed. This protocol applies to all our supply chains, including aquaculture.
Across the Waitrose & Partners livestock supply chains, we have a cross-species Responsible Animal Health Group to share best practice in this area. One area of concern is the use of critically important antibiotics (CIAs). Our definition of CIAs is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) / European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommendations, with the addition of Colistin. CIAs are rarely prescribed and none of our supply chains use Colistin to treat livestock. All our own label supply chains are working towards significant year-on-year reductions in antibiotic use and have pledged to end using all CIAs as soon as possible. Our aquaculture supply chain achieved this pledge in 2020.
Our supply chains are focused on collating antibiotic usage data for all livestock and aquaculture and prioritising disease screening and vaccinations to prevent disease occurring. Waitrose & Partners is part of the Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials. This group of retailers, manufacturers, processors and food service companies come together to promote and support responsible antimicrobial use and action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This initiative has three groups; Responsible Use, Data and Research & Development, which supports existing industry groups to ensure work is aligned and no duplication of efforts.
Antibiotic usage data
The Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) Report 2017 highlighted how the UK agriculture industry has made progress to reduce its antibiotic usage. This is aligned to the global initiative to decrease the use of antibiotics with the aim of an overall improvement in AMR.
The average UK levels recorded in livestock for 2018 was 30mg/kg of population control unit (PCU) – a 68% reduction compared with 2014.
Since 2014, Waitrose & Partners, in conjunction with its suppliers, have developed strategies and policies to reduce the total use of antibiotics across its supply chains, while keeping animal welfare at the forefront of all decisions around veterinary medicine. In addition, an escalation process was put in place to use CIAs only as a last resort and only where animal welfare may be seriously compromised without treatment.
A proactive approach to responsible animal health has been developed for all livestock supply chains in conjunction with veterinary advisors. Industry sector targets were developed by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) and industry for each livestock sector to reduce antibiotic usage by 2020.
The Waitrose & Partners 2016-2019 sector data, presented below, is broadly under the 2020 target already. All supply chains have committed to minimise the use of antibiotics, including CIA’s, where appropriate. We were pleased to have our leading work in this area recognised as a finalist in the Antibiotic Guardian Awards 2018. In January 2020, leading campaign group The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics named Waitrose & Partners as having the most policies on antibiotic useage on farm and led the way in openly publishing data.
Auditing and compliance
All our supply chains are independently audited and we take any non-compliance of animal welfare requirements very seriously – breaches can lead to the removal of farms from the Waitrose & Partners supply chain. We conduct our own responsible sourcing assessments and all farms are independently audited by the relevant livestock assurance schemes to take into account Waitrose & Partners own standards which are significantly more stringent than standards industry schemes.
Our hauliers undergo livestock handling and welfare training and our slaughter sites are reviewed by the Humane Slaughter Association. Again, anyone found in serious breach of Waitrose & Partners standards would be removed from our supply chain.
We are committed to finding more humane, high welfare options for rearing and processing our animals. Neither our broiler chickens (for meat) or our hens that provide shell egg are beak trimmed or tipped. We are the only retailer in the UK who has achieved this.
Our policy states that meat, milk, poultry, fish or egg derived from a cloned animal including subsequent generations must not be used in Waitrose own-brand products. This policy also applies on a commitment basis (by 2026) to all branded goods.
Close confinement and animal welfare
Waitrose was a pioneer of, and is committed to, the total removal of close confinement systems from all farm production.
None of our own-brand British meat, ingredient meat, milk or eggs are sourced from close confinement systems. Today we pride ourselves on only selling free-range eggs – both whole eggs and for all our ingredients – and by having lower stocking densities than average throughout our supply chains.
All our UK breeding sows are free range and we are working with our Continental Pig suppliers to improve their systems where needed. This is to ensure all animals we source are from farms where the five freedoms play a key role in management philosophy and practice.
In recognition of this we were a recipient of Compassion in World Farming’s inaugural Cage Free Award in 2017. In our branded goods, all of our shell eggs (hen, duck, and quail) are free from confinement.
All our farmed fish and shellfish are produced at a stocking densities lower than industry standard. Our suppliers must have their production systems verified by one of our recognised third party certification schemes such as RSPCA Assured, ASC, Global Gap or GAA BAP.
All our abattoirs have been equipped with CCTV in all critical welfare areas since 2012 to ensure welfare standards are maintained. Footage is independently reviewed on a regular basis by appropriate parties including the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
We are committed to providing all the animals in our supply chain with an enriched environment so they have the opportunity to display their natural behaviours. For example, our free-range laying hens enjoy an outdoor environment with tree-planting on at least 5% of the range area. They also benefit from bedding, toys, perches, and provision of grit in the house.
Our broiler chickens all have specially designed perches and bales to peck at in their sheds and our turkeys benefit from bales, bedding and perches. We are signatories of the Better Chicken Commitment which helps guarantee the quality of the environment in which we raise our chickens. Amongst other things, pigs are provided with bedding, or in the case of some continental supply, with toys. Dairy cows graze outside for at least 120 days of the year and cow brushes are provided to all adult milking stock. Calves are raised in social groups. All pens with milking goat nannies have enrichment provided. All our beef, and venison have bedding provided when indoors. In our Aquaculture systems, our halibut are provided with shelves and ensure our cleanerfish have seaweed hiding spaces.
We pledge that all cows producing milk for Waitrose spend a minimum of 120 days each year grazing on pasture. To be clear, the 120 days is a minimum requirement and in practice, our dairy cows will graze for far longer but this benchmark sets a level of consistency across our dairy farms, strengthening our commitment to animal welfare. We are the only supermarket to make this pledge for all the cows that provide our fresh milk. Despite a mixed grazing season, in 2019 our conventional dairy herds were grazed for an average of 173 days and our organic herds averaged 209 days.
The use of growth promoters is strictly prohibited across all our livestock supply chains – they have been banned from use in the European Union since 2006. Waitrose & Partners have pledged that this policy will apply to all branded goods on a commitment basis by 2026.
Lead shot pledge
Waitrose & Partners is the largest retailer of game in the UK. We sell prepared wood pigeon, partridge and pheasant during the season. We are supplied by a single game dealer who ensures all the game source is from environmentally minded British shoots and reared to the highest standards. We monitor the shoots we source from and expect them to adhere to our bespoke standards of animal welfare and shoot behaviour.
From the 2019-20 season we began phasing out the use of lead shot on the Estates from which we source our game. We publicly stated that all the Estates we buy from will be required to use lead alternatives such as steel or bismuth from season 2020/21. We are disappointed that the COVID-19 outbreak has set back our plans as many of the Estates that supported our pledge are not shooting this season. However, we expect that more than half of the game on our shelves will be lead free during the 2020/21 season. As a result, our game will continue to carry the FSA lead warning which states “Consuming lead is harmful, health experts advise to minimise lead consumption as much as possible. Anyone who eats lead-shot game should be aware of the risks posed by consuming large amounts of lead, especially children and pregnant women.” In agreement with our game supplier, we are now pledging that by season 2021-22 all Waitrose & Partners game will be brought to bag without the use of lead ammunition.
We’re proud of our animal welfare work and the accolades we’ve won. That’s why we put them at the heart of our recent marketing campaigns rolled out in our stores, on social media and print publications. We now carry a high welfare logo on pack that makes it clear that Waitrose & Partners is the “Award winning supermarket for animal welfare”.
We know how important our standards are to our customers so we aim to promote our credentials wherever possible. We also use in-store shelf branding information at a customer’s point of sale to promote awards from Compassion in World Farming. We run numerous stories in our weekly newspaper Waitrose Weekend (circulation approx. 500,000) on animal welfare and also in our monthly magazine Waitrose Food.
Our 2020 Only Waitrose campaign has our animal welfare commitments at its heart and builds on our 2018/2019 campaign that showcased the Partners responsible for our animal welfare. This latter campaign won the 2019 Compassion in World Farming Marketing Award.
All supply chains are committed to eradicating on-farm mutilation with procedures such as beak trimming and tipping in our egg and chicken supply chain and fish fin clipping forbidden; pig tail docking is only permitted with veterinary recommendation. We are committed to finding alternatives to all forms of livestock mutilation across our supply chains, whether own label or branded.
We are working closely with NGOs such as Compassion in World Farming, Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance, World Wide Fund for Nature, Marine Stewardship Council, Marine Conservation Societyand Clientearth to address welfare and sustainability issues in our livestock and fish supply chains.
Projects include ways to raise heavy weight pigs without castration and the certification of all fish species by end of 2020. We have been working on responsible seafood sourcing for more than 20 years and our suppliers only source fish from fisheries or farmed aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed. We have also undertaken work on prawn eyestalk ablation and, along with our supplier, are dedicated to ending the practice.
We recognise a number of independent third-party standards for wild caught and farmed fish including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Of our own-brand fish and shellfish, 92.7% comes from verified third party responsible sources with a further 3% engaged in Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs).
We also engage with stakeholders on the use of antibiotics in the livestock supply chain, including the World Health Organisation, the National Farmers Union, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.
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All the livestock in Waitrose & Partners supply chains are pre-stunned before slaughter to ensure insensitivity to pain before being processed.
• Cattle (including beef cattle, veal and dairy cull cows) are stunned to kill either electrically or by captive bolt
• Farmed deer are stunned by captive bolt
• Spent dairy goats are stunned to kill using captive bolt
• UK and New Zealand lambs are electrically stunned
• UK pigs (including cull sows) are CO2 stunned to kill
• Continental pigs (including cull sows) are CO2 stunned to kill or electrically stunned
• End-of-lay hens are CO2 stunned to kill – bi-phase
• Broiler chickens are CO2 stunned to kill – bi-phase
• Geese and turkeys are electrically stunned
• Ducks are water-bath stunned
• All our farmed finfish are pre-slaughter stunned, including:
○ Sea farmed rainbow trout – percussive blow followed by aorta cut
○ Freshwater rainbow trout – electrical current followed by ice slurry
○ Brown trout – electrical current followed by ice slurry
○ Sea bream – electrical current followed by ice slurry
○ Sea bass – electrical current followed by ice slurry
○ Halibut – percussive blow followed by gill cut
○ Salmon – percussive blow followed by aorta cut; or electrical current followed by percussive blow and aorta cut
We are working with academic partners to explore the practicability of introducing a low atmospheric pressure stunning (LAPS) system into our pig slaughter process and investigating the implementation of multi-phase CO2 where appropriate to replace biphase systems. We pledge to make meaningful progress in both these areas by 2025 at the latest.
Research and development
At Waitrose & Partners we have a number of research and development projects underway with commercial partners to improve the wellbeing of animals in our supply chains. These include (but are not restricted to) research to improve:
• Indicators of emotional wellbeing in livestock
• Farm Animal emotional wellbeing through Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA)
• Salmon health in our aquaculture systems
• Harvesting of farmed salmon
• Non-lethal predator deterrents on fish farms
• Dairy cow lameness
• Dairy herd health and welfare production benchmarking
• Proactive dairy herd health management – eg Bovine Viral Diarrhoea
eradication plans and Johne’s disease eradication
• Eliminate tail biting in pigs
• Reduce Kyphosis (humpback) in piglets
• Transport / lairage and slaughter welfare of pigs including the introduction of LAPS
• Stocking rates for pigs
• Relationships between farmers and vets on AMR usage
• Stress levels in cattle – including when in the lairage
• Pelvic floor measurement in heifers
• Pain minimisation / reduction during disbudding of cattle
• Liver fluke monitoring in cattle
• Slaughter welfare of cattle, continuously improving accuracy and effectiveness
• Measuring temperament in the lairage and handling facilities of deer
• Air and feed quality for young ducklings
• Natural daylight in duck houses
• Pododermatitis in turkeys
• Enhanced farm biosecurity in turkeys
• Water hygiene in turkeys
• Whole house brooding with turkeys
• Increasing the supply of sustainable forage sources via different protein crops
• Range enrichment in poultry
• Feather cover and keel bone damage in laying hens
• Pasture vegetation for seasonal goose production
• Biological control of sea lice in salmon farms, taking account of welfare of fish used
• Investigation of responsible vaccine use
• Indicators of emotional wellbeing in livestock
Tuberculosis (TB) reactors
We do not accept TB reactor cattle into the Waitrose & Partners supply chain.
Waitrose & Partners does not permit long-distance live transport or live exports of animals in its UK supply chain. We have transport policies for each of our species (detailed in each species section below) and report actual journey times. All of our transport times are below the maximum specified by UK legislation.
All our beef is from British cattle reared on British farms. Our farmers adhere to strict protocols ensuring the highest standards of husbandry and welfare to ensure stress-free, naturally produced, healthy animals. During spring and summer, our cattle are reared on open pasture in social groups and during winter protective shelter is made available in bedded barns. Cattle are finished on a natural forage-based diet. If grass is in short supply, cattle are fed other natural options such as silage. Stocking densities are carefully controlled and lower than the industry average.
Over the last 10 years we have developed the Cattle Connect scheme which sees all bull calves born into our dairy herds move into our beef supply chain to be reared for higher welfare veal or beef. In turn, dairy bull calves have a productive life which is a key criteria of the Compassion in World Farming Good Dairy Award, which we hold. This also means our dairy calves stay in the UK and are not exported abroad.
Transport and slaughter of beef cattle
The welfare of cattle during transport and when at the abattoir is highly important to us. All our cattle are transported directly to the abattoir by hauliers trained and certified in good farm animal welfare practice.
All vehicles and drivers must meet the required welfare standards – they must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock – and all farmers must be located within a six-hour drive of the abattoirs, although most are within four hours. The legal time limit for a cattle transport in the UK is eight hours.
Our abattoirs are regularly inspected in order to consistently meet approval standards by certifiers such as RSPCA Assured and the Soil Association. Our slaughter facilities were purpose built to ensure a quiet and stressfree environment for the cattle, drawing on the concepts of leading animal behaviourist Temple Grandin.
All staff members at the abattoirs must be trained in welfare friendly animal handling methods and have a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a veterinarian inspects the animals on arrival at the processing plant and present at all times.
All of our chicken, whether fresh, frozen or ingredient in products such as sandwiches, is from high welfare farms. None of our broiler chickens are beak trimmed or tipped – this is a procedure that blunts the sharp tip of the beak using infra-red light, when the chick is first hatched.
Our Essential Waitrose chicken is grown on family farms in Northern Ireland.
What makes our entry level chicken different to that available elsewhere is that birds are raised in houses that provide more natural daylight and space compared with a conventional poultry unit. The birds for essential Waitrose fresh and frozen chicken have around 20% more space than other birds (30kg/m2). We make sure they have environmental enrichment to help display their natural behaviour to scratch, perch and play. Birds have straw bales for nourishment and we have replaced our A frame perches with “platform perching” across all houses.
Bedding is refreshed regularly and fresh food and water is available at all times. Like all our chicken, essential Waitrose chicken is raised on farms within 50 miles of the processing plant.
Our free range chicken is truly free range. Birds are given plenty of room to roam outside, while being housed in airy, well-lit sheds. These birds are housed at lower stocking densities than our essential Waitrose birds – around 10% less stock per house (27.5kg/m2). They have around 1m2 per bird of outdoor space and are a slower growing breed than our conventional chickens. Bedding is refreshed regularly and fresh food and water are available at all times. Outdoor range enrichment is provided by hedgerows and trees to further encourage natural behaviours. Our free range chickens reared for meat have access to the outdoors for a minimum of half their life, roaming tree and shrub covered ranges. Our organic and free range chicken producers have planted over 70,000 trees to provide the ideal environment for our chickens to roam.
Waitrose organic chickens are raised with the lowest stocking density of all and have around 4m2 per bird of outdoor space. Under Waitrose & Partners standards, they must spend half of their life outdoors. Organic finishing sheds have pop holes down the length of the sidewalls, which gives birds free entry and exit. An apron outside the shed allows droppings to be cleaned up regularly, maintaining litter quality inside the shed. The inside is also bedded with clean chopped straw or wood shavings which is refreshed regularly and fresh water and feed is available at all times. Outdoor range enrichment is provided through hedgerows and trees to further encourage natural behaviours.
Duchy organic chicken is only available in selected branches and are raised to Organic Farmers & Growers Standards, which allow them access to the outdoors for two-thirds of their lives.
Currently 15% of our chickens (including all our free-range and organic chicken) are from slower-growing breeds. This will increase to 100% in line with our Better Chicken Commitment (see below).
Transport and slaughter of chickens
All our chickens are transported for processing by approved hauliers trained in animal welfare protocols and handling – they must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock. Birds are transported for a maximum of eight hours, however it is usually much less than this. They are processed in one of the most modern poultry processing plants in the country. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the birds on arrival, is present in the plant at all times, and the plant is regularly audited to ensure it meets our stringent high welfare standards as well as being Red Tractor assured.
Waitrose & Partners pledges to the European Chicken Commitment
On Monday 4 March 2019, Waitrose & Partners signed the 2026 European Chicken Commitment, pledging to improve the welfare of our farmed chickens. Under the Commitment, also signed by Compassion in World Farming, we pledge that our standards for all fresh, frozen and chicken meat ingredients across all Waitrose own-brand products will meet the requirements by 2026.
We adhere to most of the requirements already, including stocking density, for all fresh and frozen own label chicken and we intend to deliver on this commitment before the 2026 deadline. Alongside our long-term poultry supplier and research partner Moy Park, we are leading research into new breed requirements that will improve the welfare of our farmed chickens.
Better Chicken Commitment requirements
By 2026, we will require our suppliers to meet the following requirements for 100% of our fresh, frozen and ingredient chicken meat, including ambient, in our supply chain:
• Comply with all EU animal welfare laws and regulations, regardless of the country of production
• Implement a maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2 or less. Thinning is discouraged and if
practiced must be limited to one thin per flock
• Adopt breeds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes: Hubbard JA757, 787, 957 or 987,
Rambler Ranger, Ranger Classic, Ranger Gold, or others that meet the criteria of the RSPCA
broiler breed assessment protocol
• Meet improved environmental standards including:
○ At least 50 lux of light, including natural light
○ At least two metres of usable perch space, and two pecking substrates per 1,000 birds
○ On air quality, the maximum requirements of Annex 2.3 of the EU broiler directive, regardless
of stocking density
○ No cages or multi-tier systems
○ Adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective
electrical stunning without live inversion
○ Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing and annual
public reporting on progress towards this commitment
All deer are sourced from specially selected farms and parks in the UK and reared outdoors whenever possible although some animals may be brought into straw bedded barns during harsh winter weather. Our deer are fed a natural forage-based diet of grazed grass or clover enriched swards.
Transport and deer processing
All our park deer are shot using non lead rifle ammunition. All farmed deer are transported directly to the abattoir by hauliers trained in animal welfare and handling. 'The maximum permitted transport time is 8 hours. They must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock.
All staff members handling deer at the abattoir are also specialists trained in high welfare animal handling methods and must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the animals on arrival at the processing plant and is present at all times.
Our deer are slaughtered at a purpose-built bespoke facility that allows the deer to express natural behaviour in a stress free environment.
All our duck is British. A brood and move system is the basis for our farming system. Birds arrive on the farm as day-old poults direct from the hatchery. After an initial and carefully controlled brooding stage of about three weeks, the birds are moved to housing with lots of space and natural light. Stocking densities are lower than average, ensuring that birds have ample space to express natural behaviour.
They also enjoy enrichment such as straw bales. Air quality and temperature are monitored constantly to ensure that birds are kept comfortable at all times.
Our high welfare and husbandry standards cover the entire supply chain, from parent stock and hatchery all the way to reception and handling at the processing plant.
Transport and slaughter of ducks
Journey times to the plant are less than three hours in a purpose-built lorry. Everyone handling the ducks is appropriately trained in bird welfare and must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the birds on arrival at the processing plant and is present on site at all times. The inspection includes farm health records and an inspection of the flock. The birds are kept in small groups in a covered lairage before being processed. Waiting times are kept to a minimum to avoid stress.
All our eggs are free range. Whether whole in the ryegrass cartons, or in any of the prepared foods on our shelves, they are all are from hens free to range every day.
All our shell eggs are British, supplied by farms we know and trust. These are from free range or organic farms where hens have space to roam, shelter under trees, dust bathe and generally display their natural behaviours. Inside their houses, hens have permanent access to food and fresh water and areas for dust bathing and perching and laying eggs.
We have our own dedicated breed of hen, the British Blacktail. She has been specifically selected as a strong and active bird that is well suited to life outdoors. A slightly bigger hen, she will lay a larger egg than other breeds. We are proud to say none of our laying flocks are beak treated or trimmed. This is a procedure that blunts the sharp tip of the beak using infra-red light, when the chick is first hatched. We are the only retailer in the UK to achieve this.
Our Essential range comes from a white feathered hen laying pure white eggs. This breed is used across the globe owing to its incredible efficiency; consuming less feed for every egg, meaning the lowest possible environmental impact.
Our Duchy Original organic eggs are laid by organic free range British Blacktail hens raised in organic systems. These eggs are also laid by British Blacktail hens and farmed to the highest standards set by the Soil Association. Under these guidelines, our hens have fresh organic pasture each time a flock is housed and the size of each flock is limited to 2,000 birds which is a lower stocking density than mainstream free range production. Duchy hens, from day old chicks, are fed an organic ingredient diet and the birds can go outdoors at 10 weeks of age.
Waitrose & Partners use certified free range eggs as an ingredient in all its products where egg is required.
Transport and slaughter of end-of-lay hens
At the end of their productive period on the farm all our hens are transported by an RSPCA Assured haulier, with a maximum transport time of eight hours. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the birds on arrival at the abattoir. The plant itself is audited and approved by RSPCA Assured. All our hens are sent to a single abattoir.
Our entire geese supply chain is British and free range. We use a brood and move system as the basis for our farming system. Birds arrive on the farm as day old poults direct from the hatchery. After an initial, and carefully controlled brooding stage of about three weeks, the birds are moved to a paddock where they are free to roam and enjoy the fresh air. Stocking densities are managed to free range levels, ensuring birds have plenty of space to express natural behaviour. They also enjoy enrichment such as grassy ranges and straw bales.
Every farm has a veterinary health plan and prescription medicines are only given for specific reasons, they are never prescribed as a matter of routine. Our high welfare and husbandry standards cover the entire supply chain, from parent stock and hatchery all the way to reception and handling at the processing plant.
Transport and slaughter of geese
Journey times to plant are less than three hours and undertaken in a purpose built lorry. Everyone handling the geese is appropriately trained in bird welfare and not allowed to handle livestock until competency has been proven. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the birds on arrival at the processing plant and remains on site at all times. The inspection includes farm health records and an inspection of the flock. The birds are kept in small groups in a covered lairage before being processed. Waiting times are kept to a minimum to avoid stress.
Waitrose & Partners is the largest retailer of game in the UK. We sell prepared wood pigeon, partridge and pheasant at seasonally appropriate times. We are supplied by a single game dealer who ensures all our game sourced from leading British shoots is reared to the highest standards.
We monitor the shoots we source from and expect strict adherence to our bespoke standards of animal welfare and shoot behaviour. From the 2019-20 season onwards we are phasing out the use of lead shots on the Estates we source from. Instead, we will require lead gun alternatives such as steel or bismuth to be used. By season 2021-22 all our game will be brought to bag without the use of lead ammunition (see lead ammunition section above).
Our Guinea Fowl are 100% free range and raised on farms in France. The birds are free to roam during the day and housed at night in barns where they have significant amounts of space and perching areas to allow them to express their natural behaviour. None of our Guinea Fowl are beak trimmed or tipped and all are free from other mutilations such as de-winging and toe clipping.
Transport and slaughter of Guinea Fowl
The birds are transported to slaughter by drivers qualified in animal handling and have a guaranteed transport time of less than eight hours. During 2019 the average transport time for Waitrose Guinea Fowl was three hours.
The birds are all electrical water bath stunned before slaughter.
All our UK lambs are reared as naturally as possible. Lambs stay with their mothers from birth until weaning and during this time, they suckle naturally and live in family groups. After weaning, lambs stay together as a group in fields. Their diet is primarily grass and forage, however supplementary feeding of other natural options is permitted if grass is in short supply.
Transport and slaughter of UK lamb
All transportation of our lambs must comply with the regulations specified by the legislation, assurance schemes and other animal welfare protocols we adhere to. The welfare of lambs going to slaughter and when at the abattoir is of the utmost importance to us.
Lambs are yarded for two to three hours prior to loading for transport to ensure stress is minimised. The majority of our lambs only travel around 30 miles to the abattoir, taken by the farmers who reared them. Lambs transported from further away, as with other livestock supply chains, are carried by approved hauliers trained and certified in high welfare livestock handling. They are not allowed to handle livestock until they have proven their competence. The maximum journey time is seven hours.
All abattoirs used for our lamb are regularly and independently audited to Food Standards Agency (FSA) abattoir standards to ensure high welfare standards at all times. All staff handling of lambs at the abattoir must be trained in welfare friendly animal handling methods and demonstrate a sufficient level of competence before being allowed to handle any livestock. All our abattoirs focus on creating a stress free environment with Waitrose specific protocols in place such as low lairage stocking densities. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the animals on arrival at the processing plant. All our lambs are electronically stunned before slaughter.
Outside of the British season, we source lamb from selected farmers in New Zealand. These farms also base their farm standards on the Five Freedoms and a farm assurance protocol which mirrors the Red Tractor beef and lamb scheme. Lambs have access to water, shade and shelter from harsh weather and each farm is managed by a trained stockperson. All animals are reared outside and receive most of their nutrition from natural pastures.
Transport and slaughter of NZ lamb
All transport operators must be registered and comply with the New Zealand Livestock Transport Assurance programme. This programme is independently audited by a government owned agency. This includes random truck and driver audits at the point of delivery as well as depot audits and record inspections. Drivers are trained and accredited before they can operate a livestock transport vehicle. The programme specifies stocking density, journey time and regular checks of livestock by the driver.
Both abattoirs used for our lamb are regularly and independently audited to Red Tractor and Humane Slaughter Association abattoir standards to ensure the high welfare at all times. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the animals on arrival at the processing plant. All our lambs are electronically stunned before slaughter.
We will be moving our entire supply chain to UK only lamb from Summer 2021.
All Waitrose & Partners liquid milk and cream is from British cows.
We pledge that all our cows producing milk spend a minimum of 120 days a year grazing in fields but in practice, our dairy cows graze outdoors for far longer – during 2019 this averaged 173 days. This pledge sets in stone a minimum standard, strengthening our commitment to animal welfare and ensuring a level of consistency across our dairy farms. Our farm grazing plans are regularly reviewed by grassland experts. We are the only supermarket to make this 120 day minimum grazing pledge across all of our dairy farms supplying us with milk. Enrichment such as cow brushes are provided to adult milking stock. We do not permit tethering or tail docking of cows within this UK liquid milk supply chain; in addition, we calculate that we can guarantee this for 95% of the cows in our global supply chain (with the exception of authentic continental cheese and butter).
Our Waitrose Conventional Milk Scheme incorporates exacting standards to ensure that our dairy cows, at whatever stage of their lives, are treated humanely and with high levels of care and expertise in stock handling. They graze for a minimum of 120 days in the year. In winter, they are sheltered in clean, dry and airy barns with readily available food and water. We are continually reviewing our standards to improve animal welfare wherever we can. We have a bespoke herd health plan for use on farm that covers areas such as bedding, foot care, medicine use and a bespoke nutrition plan.
Our Duchy organic milk comes from cows raised in organic systems. They graze outdoors when field conditions allow while in the winter they are sheltered in bright, airy barns. All our organic farms are asked to demonstrate measurable levels of improving health and welfare managed through natural diets and low stocking rates.
Like all our milk herds, the animals are fed natural diets that vary according to their physiological needs and stage of lactation. Farmers focus on breed-specific husbandry techniques to ensure stress-free cows. Farms must adhere to organic, Red Tractor and bespoke Waitrose & Partners standards which provides independent accreditation for animal welfare.
All surplus dairy bulls born into our supply pool are integrated into either our high welfare beef or veal supply chains, which ensures they remain in the UK and are not needlessly slaughtered at birth.
Dairy ingredients Where milk is pooled and supply chains are extremely complex, we acknowledge the challenge of engaging directly with local suppliers to address issues. We provide active support wherever possible and if welfare issues are brought to our attention such as with Parmesan and Grana Padano, we encourage those suppliers to engage directly with Compassion in World Farming.
Transport and slaughter of spent dairy cows
Welfare of cattle going to slaughter and when at the abattoir is of the utmost importance to us. All cattle are transported directly to the abattoir by Red Tractor approved hauliers. This ensures all vehicles and drivers meet required welfare standards.
The maximum transport time limit for our dairy cows is four hours.
All our goat herds are British. Like all Waitrose farmers, great animal welfare is a priority for our goat farmers. They operate to bespoke Waitrose protocols which go far beyond the requirement of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme. Our goats are housed in large airy barns and bedded on fresh straw every day and are not subject to close confinement or tethering. They are housed in social groups according to their stage of production ensuring a known, secure hierarchy allowing plenty of social interaction. Young kids are raised in specialist nursery units with group housing to ensure social enrichment. All billy goats (male) born into our milk herds are reared to provide meat.
Transport and slaughter of spent dairy goats
Transport of spent dairy goats is no more than four hours. Cull stock are sent to local abattoirs which are less than 40 miles away. All drivers are certified in high welfare livestock handling and must prove their competence before they are allowed to work.
All fresh pork we sell is British. This includes Waitrose & Partners sausages, bacon, British ham and gammon which comes from pigs that are either outdoor bred or free range. Pigs that supply our essential range pork are born outdoors and we never use farrowing crates or sow stalls.
Weaned pigs – approximately four weeks old – are finished indoors in straw bedded, light and airy buildings. None of our supplier farms use slatted floors and all growing accommodation is straw based. All our supplying farms have a lower stocking density than the pig industry standard. All our sows spend their entire lives outdoors. All the pig farms we use must have an emergency plan to deal with water supply issues and care of animals during extreme weather.
We are committed to eradicating the need for any veterinary mutilation of our pigs. In this regard, we are working on research to reduce further the need for tail docking. In our supply chain, pigs tails are docked only when recommended by a specialist veterinary surgeon to prevent tail biting, with only the tip removed.
Similarly, teeth clipping is only carried out in exceptional circumstances under specialist veterinary advice by trained stockpersons to protect the sow’s udder, when necessary. Castration is not permitted. Sow stalls and farrowing crates are also prohibited.
Free range pigs
As with our essential Waitrose pork, all the sows are kept outdoors their entire lives and live in straw filled arcs and tents on free draining sandy soils. At farrowing, the sows are given their own specific hut for raising the litter until weaning at four weeks old. Having been born outdoors, the growing pigs are raised outdoors in paddocks and allowed to range freely. Within each paddock there is a straw bedded arc for shelter. All farms have a lower stocking density in line with our higher welfare requirements. At a minimum, the stocking density for our free range pigs is 36m2/pig. Tail docking is not allowed under the free-range system as tail biting is not an issue.
Duchy Organic pigs
We apply the same high welfare standards as free-range pigs above, in addition the pigs are raised to Soil Association organic standards.
Transport and slaughter of UK pigs
All our pigs are transported directly to the abattoir by hauliers approved by Red Tractor. All drivers must undergo specialist welfare training to ensure the highest standards are met. No journey lasts longer than five hours with the average being three hours. No electric goads are used in the moving and loading of pigs. All lorries have lift up decks and straw bedding is used. In summer, extra water is provided and where possible, pigs are moved in social groups. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the animals on arrival at the processing plant. Slaughter is undertaken by fully certified staff and maintained to standards laid down by British Quality Assured Pork. Our pork processor Dalehead Foods recognises and operates within the guidance set out by the Humane Slaughter Association and Freedom Food for animals at the point of slaughter.
Our high welfare UK pig supply accounts for around two thirds of our total pork requirement. The remainder comes from our Continental meat supply chain (detail below).
The use of authentic ingredients is very important to our customers and this is especially true with our authentic continental meats such as Spanish chorizo, German salami, Italian Parma ham and prosciutto, and paté.
Our continental pig meat supplier Winterbotham Darby is a leader in its field. Their pig scheme, which covers 100% of the pigs they supply to Waitrose & Partners, already exceeds European legislation on animal welfare standards.
To drive progress further, Winterbotham Darby has also developed the first pan-European welfare standard, the European Farm Partnership (EFP) pig module, which is accredited by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service).
The EFP pig module is the only accredited standard of its kind for Europe and covers the entire supply chain from breeding to rearing, finishing, transport and slaughter. Winterbotham Darby’s work to develop this standard, as well as its achievements in supply chain traceability and consumer education, was honoured in 2018 with a Special Recognition Award from Compassion in World Farming. The standard is for higher welfare systems and takes into account health and welfare factors such as free farrowing, increased space and a stimulating environment. The standard also covers antibiotic usage and medicine, feed, veterinary procedures, biosecurity and pest control. The Pig module (UKAS ISO/IEC 17065:2012), will be audited by certification body KIWA Agri Food, on behalf of Winterbotham Darby.
The EFP is a tiered system which Winterbotham Darby use to encourage farmers to continually improve their standards. All their producer farms across Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Holland will be certified to at least bronze by the end of 2021 and silver or gold by 2025.
In recognition of their leadership in this area two of Winterbotham Darby’s producer partners have received awards from Compassion in World Farming. Italian producer Fumagalli has received a Good Pig Award, and Spanish producer Marcos a Good Sow Commendation.
Winterbotham Darby EFP certification in 2019:
Transport and slaughter of EU pigs
Transport of our EU pigs is limited to a maximum of eight hours. Each country has an approval process equivalent to Red Tractor with an approved list of hauliers.
Our Essential Waitrose farmed salmon supply partnerships are small to medium sized farming sites in Scotland, each with an experienced team of husbandry experts. Our organic salmon is supplied by Scottish farms. All farmed fish must be fully traceable to known and audited Waitrose approved farm sites. Audit protocols must include assessment of fish welfare, veterinary care, husbandry, protection of the marine environment and sources of marine based feed ingredients. We do not allow mutilating procedures such as fin clipping on our farmed fish.
All our farmed salmon, sea farmed rainbow trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, sea bass, sea bream and halibut are pre-stunned prior to slaughter.
All (100%) of our Farmed fish is independently certified to a recognised third-party standard. The following thirdparty certification schemes are recognised for farmed fish: Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Global Gap, Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practice (GAABAP), Friend of the Sea (FOS), Soil Association Organic and Naturland Organic.
The scope of the certification must include processing facilities, farms and hatcheries.
Aquaculture activities must be conducted in a manner that is socially responsible and within national rules and regulations, with regard to ILO convention on labour rights, not jeopardising the livelihood of aquaculture workers and local communities as laid out by the John Lewis Responsible Code of Practice. Our essential Waitrose & Partners farmed salmon supply partnerships are small to medium-sized farming sites in Scotland, each with an experienced team of husbandry experts. Our organic salmon is supplied by Scottish farms.
We do not allow mutilating procedures such as fin clipping on our farmed fish. We audit all Salmon, Bass, Bream and Producers under our own Responsible Efficient Production Index. All data is used to improve environmental and welfare performance on farm.
Farmed fish feed policy
Marine based feed raw materials must only be sourced from responsibly managed fisheries. We support the MarineTrust Global Standard and certification programme for the Responsible Supply of Fishmeal and Fish Oil (MT RS). Marine based ingredients used in the production of Waitrose & Partners salmon, trout and halibut are from MT RS certified stocks and all farmed fish diets are required to be produced using MT RS, MSC or FOS certified marine ingredients.
The marine feed ingredients used in the fish feed for Waitrose & Partners organic salmon, Rainbow trout, Brown trout and Halibut are produced from trimmings from fish responsibly caught for human consumption. All diets are certified as organic and all ingredients are fully traceable.
The use of non-marine ingredients in feed diets is permitted under the Waitrose Fish Feed policies. However, the inclusion of vegetable protein ingredients must be non-GMO and inclusion rates must not compromise fish welfare or the eating quality and nutritional value of the final product. It is our policy to ensure that salmon and trout are fed on a diet that ensures the following levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the finished product to deliver the health and nutritional benefits that our customers expect (Conventional Salmon 1.61g/100g; Organic Salmon 1.5g/100g; Rainbow Trout 1.5g/100g.)
The use of processed animal protein and animal derived lipids and blood meal are not permitted.
Responsible Harvest Assessment
The Waitrose & Partners ‘Responsible Harvest Assessment’ looks at key control measures to ensure harvesting of our salmon and trout is carried out in such a way as to minimise stress, with animal welfare as a primary principle. Its core values of our sea and loch-grown trout are to promote continuous improvement, create aspiration by rewarding innovation, good practice and ensure compliance to the Waitrose & Partners Aquaculture Farming Protocol. The assessment itself, currently its second year of implementation, covers a range of criteria, including detailed on-site system checks, fish welfare, workers’ welfare, hygiene and brand protection.
All our farmed finfish are pre-slaughter stunned.
Farmed stocking densities
Farmed fish transport times from harvest to slaughter
All our farmed finfish are pre-slaughter stunned. For details on method, please see slaughter policy section above.
Farmed fish third-party certification
All Waitrose turkeys are farmed in England, Northern Ireland and Ireland and are kept to our high standards of animal welfare. Unlike others, even our entry level essential Waitrose & Partners turkeys are farmed to higher welfare standards, with natural daylight, fresh air and more room to move around than the industry standard.
Waitrose free-range turkeys are raised on selected small farms in the UK and Ireland. They are provided with both indoor and outdoor range areas during their growing period. Access to grass paddocks are unrestricted during daytime hours for at least half the birds’ life and housing is available for them to return to shelter. Range areas are predominantly grass with straw bales, trees, scrub and mixed vegetation provided for range enrichment.
Our Duchy Originals organic turkeys are raised in England and Ireland. A slow growing, bronze feathered breed, they are broadly similar to free range but with additional requirements to meet the organic regulations and the Waitrose & Partners bespoke standards. Stocking densities are very low, like our free-range birds, with plenty of environmental enrichment available. Waitrose organic turkeys are not beak trimmed.
Transport and slaughter of turkeys
All our Irish turkeys are transported to slaughter under National Welfare of Animals Transport regulations which covers welfare and safety standards. All drivers involved in moving turkeys have received formal independent training in bird welfare. Farms are located within four hours’ drive of the plant and transport vehicles are specifically designed for the movement of turkeys. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the birds on arrival at the processing plant.
We pioneered the sale of UK-produced high welfare veal. We have one dedicated veal supplier we have worked with for more than 30 years. Veal calves are reared in big social groups in large, airy barns bedded with deep straw with lots of room to move around, including some access to outside yards. They have access to ad-lib milk and are offered some home-grown cereals to supplement and enhance their diet. Their enriched environment includes straw bale 'cosy corners' for small calves and calf brushes for scratching. We have an integrated supply chain and our veal calves originate from the Waitrose & Partners dairy supply chain. This ensures our male calves are not needlessly slaughtered at birth or exported.
Transport and slaughter of veal calves
The export of veal calves is prohibited. Veal calves are transported to the abattoir by one dedicated, approved haulier and all drivers are properly trained in animal welfare. They are not allowed to handle livestock unless they have proven their competence. The maximum permitted transport time is six hours.
The haulier ensures that welfare is a priority for the calves by ensuring lots of straw and sawdust are used in the vehicle to maximise their comfort. The welfare of the veal calves at the abattoir is of the utmost importance to Waitrose & Partners.
Our abattoir has been purpose built with the help of animal welfare experts and influence from American animal science Professor Temple Grandin. The facility operates a detailed animal welfare policy. As with our other livestock supply chains, all staff must demonstrate high levels of competence before being allowed to handle young cattle. Like the rest of our livestock supply chain, a vet inspects the animals on arrival at the processing plant.
Welfare outcomes and selected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Waitrose & Partners supply chains
Waitrose & Partners livestock schemes have evolved over the last 20 years and are underpinned by an ethos of continuous improvement. This includes the regular review of both technical and financial performance, trends in welfare outcomes and investment in research and development. These research projects are carried out in partnership with reputable educational establishments providing the opportunity for emerging scientists to work closely with our livestock supply chains. In conjunction with our suppliers we monitor a wide range of key welfare performance indicators to ensure continuous improvement for the animals in our own-brand supply chains.
Average travel time for livestock sourced by Waitrose & Partners
The below charts are measured in hours from start of loading until the last animal has entered lairage. More details are available in our KPI download Average travel times for livestock and fish sourced by Waitrose & Partners.
Although average travel times are not yet available for dairy cows and dairy goats, 100% of these species are transported within their maximum stated transport times. In addition, as per our policy, 100% our livestock and farmed finfish in our own-brand supply chains are transported within specified maximum transport times, and we report on any exceptions to this. Unfortunately, this information is not always available for branded goods that we sell.
Overall, we sell around 55% own-brand products by volume. However, by far the majority of the fresh, frozen and ingredient meat in Waitrose & Partners products comes from our own supply chains, so we can be confident that >80% of the meat sold in store – including brands – will be transported under the maximum transport times stated in our protocols. The reality is likely to be considerably higher, as many of our key branded suppliers have transport policies of their own. We will continue to work with branded suppliers to increase awareness of this important issue and ensure we have sight of their performance.
Percentage of livestock reared to Red Tractor Assurance Standards or equivalent
In all cases Waitrose & Partners specifies much more stringent animal welfare requirements than Red Tractor Standards. These additional higher welfare bolt-on requirements are independently verified at the time of our audit inspections. Details of species-specific policies and standards are provided above including our higher welfare continental standards for pigs.
Percentage of livestock pre-stunned before slaughter:
As per our policy, 100% of our livestock and farmed finfish in our global own-brand supply chains are prestunned before slaughter. Unfortunately, this information is not always available for branded goods that we sell. Overall, we sell around 55% own-brand products by volume. However, by far the majority of the fresh, frozen and ingredient meat in Waitrose & Partners products comes from our own supply chains, so we can be confident that >80% of the meat sold in store - including brands - is pre-stunned before slaughter. The reality is likely to be considerably higher, as many of our key branded suppliers have pre-stun policies of their own. We will continue to work with branded suppliers to increase awareness of this important issue and ensure we have sight of their performance.
Percentage of livestock that are not reared in close confinement:
100% our UK pigs are free from sow stalls (zero days' use permitted) and farrowing crates. In line with our supplier Winterbotham Darby's commitment to move all their continental farms through their tiered bronze, silver and gold EFP farming standard, and in support of Waitrose's Cage Free award from Compassion in World Farming, all our continental pigs will be free from confinement by 2025. In 2019, 33% of continental pigs were free from sow stalls (zero days' use permitted) and 23% were free from farrowing crates. All our UK pigs are free from sow stalls and farrowing crates. As per the diagram above, this means that in total 85% of our global pig supply chain (including fresh, frozen and ingredient) is sow stall free, and 83% is farrowing crate free. In total therefore 83% is free from all kinds of confinement.
Our dairy cows from our dedicated milk pool are free from confinement and graze for a minimum of 120 days per year - in 2019 this totalled an average of 173 days. Dairy cows producing the milk for our cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products should not be permanently housed or subject to any kind of close confinement. However, the complexity of dairy supply chains means we do not have control over all dairy sources. Based on our sourcing profile and supplier policies, we can share that over 50% of our global dairy supply chain will be free from confinement i.e. permanent housing, and we are working to increase this further.
Livestock free from routine mutilations:
Figures reported are for:
• Pigs – globally 45% free from tail docking (breakdown by geography below)
• UK Organic/free range pigs – 100% free from tail docking
• UK Pigs (outdoor bred, indoor reared) – 31% free from tail docking
• Continental Pigs – 45% free from tail docking
• Pigs – globally, 84% free from castration (breakdown by geography below)
• UK Pigs – 100% free from castration
• Continental Pigs – 27% free from castration. Our supplier is researching Improvac in Italy and Spain but using pain relief for this procedure (Tri Solfren pain relief research also continues). In Spain, white pig boars are not castrated. Iberico pigs (black pigs) are currently castrated but Improvac trials are underway.
• Pigs – globally 91% free from teeth clipping (breakdown by geography below)
• UK Pigs – 100% free from teeth clipping
• Continental Pigs – 60% free from teeth clipping
• Laying hens – 80% free from beak trimming (hot blade method is prohibited). We have achieved our goal of 100% of our British Blacktail laying flocks being non trimmed. We are the only retailer in the UK who have achieved this. The remaining percentage is from our free-range egg supply chains used for ingredients.
• Broiler chickens – 100% free from beak trimming and toe clipping
• Ducks, and geese and guinea fowl – 100% free from mutilations
• Turkeys – overall, 1% free from beak trimming
• Conventional Turkeys – 0% free from beak trimming (hot knife method is prohibited)
• Organic Turkeys – 100% free from beak trimming
• Farmed fish – 100% free from fin clipping and all mutilations
• Farmed warm water prawn broodstock – Waitrose does not support the practice of eyestalk ablation in shrimp (prawn) broodstock reproduction and will ensure hatcheries supplying Waitrose farmed prawns phase out this practice by 2020
• UK Dairy calves (liquid milk pool) – 5% of retained stock are free from disbudding
• UK Dairy cows (liquid milk pool) – 100% free from tethering and tail docking*
• UK Dairy cows – 100% free from tethering and tail docking
• Higher Welfare veal calves – 100% free from disbudding
• Venison – 100% free from mutilation (though de-antlered when out of velvet for safe handling and transport, which is a legal requirement)
• Beef cattle – 98% free from dehorning; 80% free from disbudding;
• Beef Cattle – 100% free from hot iron branding
• Beef Cattle (males) – 0% free from castration
• Goats – 0% free from disbudding; 100% free from castration, dehorning and (tail) docking
• Lamb 1% free from tail docking
• UK lamb – 2% free from tail docking
• NZ lamb – 0% free from tail docking
• Lamb 27% free from castration
• UK lamb – 30% free from castration
• NZ lamb – 0% free from castration
* We do not permit tethering or tail docking of cows within our UK milk pool supply chain. For the entirety of our global supply chain, we estimate that we can guarantee this for 95% of cows (the exceptions come from the difficulty of guaranteeing this for authentic continental cheese and continental butter).
Livestock with access to an enriched environment:
Mortality rates (%)
Mortality rate represents the proportion of livestock that die for reasons such as; disease, accidents, injuries or unexplained causes. The complex interaction of these factors means that mortality will inevitably fluctuate between seasons. This is displayed in the table and graphs below as a percentage (%) of the total livestock population at one or more stages of the livestock lifecycle.
All of our farmers aim to minimise premature mortality in their livestock. This begins by giving all livestock the best possible start in life with consideration of the livestock environment, the provision of appropriate feed and clean drinking water. Our farmers take great pride in their approach ensuring high husbandry standards are maintained. This is achieved through regular monitoring of the livestock, staff training and visits with their veterinary advisors. A wide range of issues are considered during the completion of our bespoke responsible animal health plans.
All of these considerations help to minimise incidence of mortality. Most of our supply chains show decreasing or stable levels of livestock mortality.
There was a severe cold snap during lambing that did significantly affect mortality verses the previous year. This has probably been compounded and negatively skewed further by difficulties in getting accurate data from producers following the decision to exit NZ supply by 2021.
Adverse weather – the Beast from the East – was responsible for the increase in Veal calf mortality and UK ewe and lamb mortality in 2018.
Laying hens – a new methodology to better measure on farm mortality was introduced.
The increase in venison parent mortality in 2019 reflects increasing numbers of animals being raised for Waitrose in the venison supply chain.
The increase in organic dairy herd mortality represents a chain to the way we gather data which now records ALL on farm mortality whether planned or not.
Sea farmed Rainbow Trout: The farming company's usual supply of trout eggs was unavailable and they had to use substitute with eggs from a different source; these turned out to be less tolerant to saltwater, contributing to mortalities higher than the previous year.