Some of the UK’s largest retailers do not have robust enough pig welfare policies and are failing to publicly communicate on the issue, a report has claimed.
World Animal Protection’s (WAP) ‘Who’s Telling Porkies’ report singled out Iceland and Asda as the overall worst performers out of 10 retailers based on four metrics: animal welfare policy, pig welfare policy, import policy and transparency.
WAP claimed piglet mutilation was an industry-wide problem and that some retailers were doing more than others to tackle it.
Waitrose came top of the rankings with an overall score of 97%, ahead of M&S (94%) and Morrisons (91%), while Iceland came in last position on 13% and Asda coming ninth with a score of 44%.
Based on the retailer’s publicly available information, WAP found no evidence Iceland met its requirements on having a species-specific pig welfare policy, an import policy for sourcing pigs from systems with at least the same welfare standards as those in the UK or data on practices such as tail docking or teeth reduction.
Iceland declined to comment on the report.
Asda ranked above Iceland but still came in below the discounters and the other members of the big four.
The retailer said at the time data was collected by WAP for the report in August, its ‘Create Change for Better’ website was under construction, meaning its welfare commitments were not publicly available.
A spokeswoman insisted Asda had “comprehensive animal welfare policies in place and our priority is to source from producers accredited to Red Tractor or RSPCA-assured standards”.
Reflecting on the report, WAP campaigns manager Lindsay Duncan called on supermarkets to do more on pig welfare.
“While it is encouraging that some supermarkets have taken positive action as a result of the ranking, in the case of the lowest seven supermarkets, this does not go far enough,” Duncan said.
“Supermarkets have an undeniable responsibility to improve and uphold welfare standards for the animals in their supply chain and their customers have the right to demand that they demonstrate they are carrying out their policies by regularly publishing data.”
In response, the British Retail Consortium’s director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said: “Our members take their responsibilities to animal welfare very seriously, and the farmers who supply pork products work to exacting standards to ensure animal welfare is upheld.”
Meanwhile, Tesco, Co-op and Sainsbury’s – which ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively – all underlined their commitment to animal welfare in their supply chains. Tesco said its own Tesco Welfare Approved Standard “exceeds” government-approved industry welfare standards and applied to “all pork sold at Tesco regardless of its country of origin”.
Co-op said its supply chain was totally free from practices such as teeth reduction, castration and tail docking, while Sainsbury’s added it was working to reduce the need for teeth clipping and tail docking in its supply chain and said it only sources pork from British farms.
In March, WAP accused Tesco of sourcing pork from farms where routine tail docking took place after performing an undercover investigation.