Marks and Spencer has become the first retailer to pledge to sell 100% slower-reared and RSPCA Assured fresh chicken across its UK stores.
In line with the Better Chicken Commitment, the retailer has moved to a Hubbard breed which will also benefit from higher animal welfare standards.
This comes as a study conducted by YouGov on behalf of M&S found that 81% of UK adults think that it is important that food retailers focus on the better treatment of farm animals.
These include a multigrain diet, which has been designed to support slower natural growth and muscle development, whilst also ensuring the best flavour for customers. As the birds are slower reared they will be more resilient and robust, particularly to higher temperatures.
Birds will also have 20% more space alongside an enhanced environment, with more pecking aids and perches to encourage natural behaviours.
“At M&S we have a long history of driving animal welfare standards across the industry. This year marked 25 years since we first introduced 100% free range whole eggs and we were the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment,” M&S food technical director, Andrew Clappen said.
“When it comes to chicken, we want to keep raising the bar to improve welfare – it’s something we know our customers care deeply about and we do too.”
RSPCA Assured CEO Mike Baker, also gave his seal of approval.
He said: “M&S’s move to offer 100% slower-reared, RSPCA Assured fresh chicken is the biggest positive change to chicken farming in a generation. It’s a landmark achievement for animal welfare, which we hope will set a leading example for other retailers.”
“We’re really proud to partner with M&S in extending their commitment to higher welfare farming, with the conversion of all of their fresh chicken to RSPCA Assured. M&S already have the widest range of RSPCA Assured products of any UK retailer.
“This move further extends that leading position, and means they can now assure their customers that they are buying fresh chicken reared to the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards throughout their entire range.”