Source: Getty Images

Waitrose own label Parma ham, mortadella and prosciutto will now be confinement-free

Waitrose has claimed an “industry-leading move” by announcing all of its own brand Italian continental meat is now produced to the highest animal welfare standards.

Waitrose own label Parma ham, mortadella and prosciutto will now be confinement-free, with animals given more room to roam and socialise, and with deep straw bedding in which to root around.

Traditionally, animal welfare standards for continental meat have lagged behind those of British meats.

“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,” said Jake Pickering, senior manager for agriculture at Waitrose.

The retailer is confinement-free in UK farming and has a 2025 commitment for the same to be true across all its continental meat.

“This represents a huge step forward for the welfare standards within our Italian breeding, growing and finishing supply chains and means that well over 50% of our continental meat sales will now come from higher-welfare pigs,” said Pickering.

Waitrose has worked with its supplier, The Compleat Food Group, and its Italian producers to improve standards.

“We are encouraged by the steps Waitrose is taking to improve the welfare of pigs in its continental meat supply,” said Louise Valducci, head of food business (Europe) at Compassion in World Farming. “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.”

The retailer has also pledged that by 2025, all continental pigs will be free from confinement, including prohibiting sow stalls and farrowing crates.

It was now looking to encourage other retailers to “follow our lead to ensure British shoppers can enjoy delicious and ethically sourced charcuterie”.