Waitrose has become the first major UK retailer to stop using farrowing crates in the production of all its own-label pork products.

It has moved all the Danish pig farmers supplying its bacon and lardons onto an outdoor farrowing system. British producers were banned from using farrowing crates by Waitrose four years ago, but it has taken time to roll out the system to Danish farmers. The move has been welcomed by Compassion in World Farming, which says the outdoor system allows sows and piglets to express their natural behaviour.

Only 5% of Danish pig farmers run outdoor systems because of higher costs, according to DBMC marketing director John Howard.

"Very strict environmental regulations that affect Danish farming have tended to mean costs of outdoor production are higher in Denmark than those for indoor systems," he said. "This has made it very difficult for the industry to really take off there."