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Waitrose Sets New Industry Standard for Animal Welfare in Italian Continental Meat


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In a groundbreaking move, Waitrose has taken the lead in animal welfare standards, not just in the UK but also for Italian charcuterie. The supermarket chain, known for its commitment to ethical sourcing, now ensures that all its own-brand Italian continental meat adheres to the highest standards of animal welfare. This initiative places Waitrose at the forefront of the industry, outpacing its competitors.

Elevating Italian Charcuterie Welfare Standards

Customers shopping for Waitrose Parma ham, Mortadella, or Prosciutto can now do so with the confidence that the Italian animals behind these products have experienced a life free from confinement. These animals enjoy ample space to roam and socialize, as well as deep straw bedding to engage in natural behaviors such as rooting.

Traditionally, animal welfare standards for continental meat have lagged behind those of British meats. However, Waitrose’s long-standing partnership with its supplier, The Compleat Food Group, has spearheaded positive change. The company became the first Italian meat producer to receive the prestigious Good Pig Award from Compassion in World Farming back in 2016. Now, these high welfare standards have been extended to encompass all Italian producers within Waitrose’s supply chain.

Jake Pickering, Senior Manager for Agriculture at Waitrose, expressed their commitment to animal welfare: “We’re already the number one supermarket for animal welfare in the world* and are delighted this move helps us raise the bar even further.”

Waitrose’s dedication to animal welfare extends beyond the UK. They have set a 2025 commitment to ensure the same high standards for all their continental meat products. This marks a significant step forward for the welfare of pigs within Italian breeding, growing, and finishing supply chains, with over 50% of continental meat sales now meeting higher welfare criteria.

Compassion in World Farming Applauds Waitrose’s Efforts

Louise Valducci, Head of Food Business (Europe), Compassion in World Farming, commended Waitrose’s actions, stating: “We are encouraged by the steps Waitrose is taking to improve the welfare of pigs in its continental meat supply. It highlights the importance of working closely with producers, giving them the confidence and support to invest in cage-free systems, to ensure a successful transition across the business.”

Consumers are increasingly concerned about animal welfare, and companies like Waitrose, committing to cage-free production, send a powerful signal to the market that compassion and ethical sourcing are not only achievable but also vital.

A History of Commitment to Animal Welfare

Waitrose’s dedication to animal welfare is not a recent development. In 2017, the supermarket received the ‘Cage Free Award’ from Compassion in World Farming for its efforts to eliminate the use of cages for farm animals. In 2001, Waitrose stopped selling eggs from caged hens and only offers outdoor-bred or free-range British pork. The company also pledged to enhance the welfare standards within its continental meat supply chain by 2025, which includes phasing out sow stalls and farrowing crates.

A Call for Industry-Wide Change

Waitrose’s commitment to improving animal welfare in its supply chains serves as an inspiration to the industry. The company encourages other retailers to follow suit to ensure that British shoppers can enjoy delicious and ethically sourced charcuterie.

In conclusion, Waitrose’s recent announcement sets a new industry benchmark for animal welfare standards in Italian continental meat, reaffirming the supermarket’s commitment to ethical sourcing and the well-being of animals in its supply chains.

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