M&S to be first major retailer to sell only slower-reared chicken

M&S will be the first major retailer to sell only slower-reared, higher welfare, chicken across its full range of fresh chicken products.

M&S already has the highest animal welfare standards in the market and from Autumn 2022, all fresh chicken sold by M&S will be slower-reared, British and RSPCA Assured - demonstrating the retailer’s continued leadership and commitment in this area.

The slower-reared birds are fed on a multigrain diet, specifically designed to support their slower natural growth and muscle development, giving the chicken a great flavour and succulence.

M&S Food Managing Director, Stuart Machin said, “M&S has a long history of leading on animal welfare standards, working with our M&S Select farmers we know and trust. 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 already have the biggest range of RSPCA Assured products on the market but 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.”

Customers can already buy slower-reared chicken at M&S, including whole chickens, portions and chicken breasts – from next year this standard will apply to all fresh chicken products.

This significant investment will show customers that M&S does more to protect the welfare of animals in its supply chain than any other retailer and the story will feature in the long-running ‘Fresh Market Update’ TV campaign from the 21st July.

RSPCA Chief Executive Chris Sherwood said, “With its move to RSPCA Assured in this category, M&S has extended its already leading position and can assure its customers that they are buying higher welfare chicken, reared to the RSPCA’s high standards – throughout its entire range.

“It’s a landmark achievement for animal welfare, which we hope will set a leading example for others in the sector. By simply switching to using only slower growing breeds of chicken, retailers can make an enormous difference to the lives and welfare of millions of chickens reared in this country every year for their meat. “

Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said, “We applaud M&S for being the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, the first to start transitioning supply, and the first to roll out product on shelf with their ‘Oakham Gold’ fresh chicken.

“Making commitments across the entire supply is a major step towards higher welfare chicken becoming a baseline standard, however concrete plans and contracts with suppliers are imperative to move the market forwards. Companies that have made the Better Chicken Commitment must start their transition now and those that are yet to sign up need to get on board.

“M&S are leading the UK market and we urge others to follow suit if we are to succeed in achieving genuine change for chickens.”