Sales of free-range duck have risen 25% in three months at Waitrose, the store said, despite the decision to delist intensively reared duck because of low welfare standards.

The increase has given Norfolk-based Cherry Foods the confidence to develop flushable duck ponds so birds can paddle in clean water. "Over the last quarter we're up about 25%, but over the last couple of trading periods, we were up 40% on duck," said buyer Quentin Clark."It's being driven by demand for free-range."

The uplift is not just the result of substitution sales from Waitrose's ban on conventional duck, Clark said. "For a time we were selling free-range and conventional duck side by side and sales were growing."

Cherry is killing about 4,000 birds a week for Waitrose. It's also launching a limited-period organic free-range bird for Christmas. All the same, Clark said customers needed more information on the costs of their food.