Waitrose is preparing to roll out its high-welfare Select Farm quality mark on all its fresh red meat.
The retailer plans to launch packaging featuring the Select Farm logo for fresh pork, lamb and beef in the autumn. The products will join chicken, salmon and milk, which have been in double-digit sales growth since they were branded Select Farm in 2006.
Senior buyer Quentin Clark said the aim was to differentiate Waitrose's meat from that of competitors. "The Select Farm roll-out is about helping consumers understand the standards behind our meat and fish," Clark said. "Its key elements are higher animal welfare, better quality and environmental benefits."
Far from being a premium offer, the mark will become Waitrose's own-label entry point for meat, fish and poultry, Clark added.
"It is not a free-range standard - it's a system that allows housed animals and is aimed at the everyday shopping list," he said.
Most Waitrose livestock farmers have already adopted the standards behind the mark, so badging meat up as Select Farm is more about branding and marketing than any radical change in farming practices, Clark said.
The main message for consumers is that each species has been reared according to higher than usual welfare standards, allowing it to behave naturally.
"We don't want to sacrifice quality to welfare considerations, but we think better animal husbandry actually produces tastier meat," Clark said.
The initiative has already proved a commercial success on existing lines.
Sales of Waitrose Select Farm chicken, for instance, have grown 9% over the past year.
Duck sales have risen 50% since Waitrose introduced its flushable duck ponds and badged the meat up as Select Farm.
Farms are audited for compliance by Waitrose technologists separately to the basic Red Tractor accreditation.