In our UK land-based livestock supply chains, Waitrose’s welfare requirements extend beyond basic Red Tractor Assurance with bespoke, independently verified standards to which farmers must adhere. Close confinement systems, including farrowing crates and caged hens, are not used, and stocking densities are lower than average across the supply chain. Journey times are much shorter than the legal maximum, with Waitrose implementing maximum travel time requirements for some supply chains. We conduct our own assessments of farm management practices, and farms are independently audited by the relevant assurance schemes, supplemented by our own bespoke standards (detailed below). Our hauliers undergo livestock handling and welfare training, and our slaughter sites are regularly reviewed by the Humane Slaughter Association.
All our farmed fish suppliers, irrespective of geographic location, utilise certification standards such as Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Global Gap, Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices, RSPCA or recognised organic certification. We ensure all staff are welfare trained. Additionally, salmon, trout, sea bass and bream producers are assessed through our own Responsible Efficient Production Index (REP). The results of these assessments are closely monitored and, when necessary, acted upon to maintain standards.
All supply chains are committed to eradicating on-farm mutilation with procedures such as fish fin clipping forbidden, and pig tail docking only permitted with veterinary recommendation. We are committed to finding alternatives to all forms of livestock mutilation.
Production is kept as natural as possible by providing environmental and social enrichment. We use a high forage diet for ruminant species and make sure dairy cows graze for at least 120 days out of the year. In fact, during 2019, our conventional (non-organic) dairy farmers managed to graze their herds for an average of 173 days, with our organic dairy farmers averaging 209 days.
Our Agriculture Manager and Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager, in conjunction with the Waitrose Farming Partnership Livestock Steering Group (WFP LSG) and the Waitrose Farming Partnership Fish Forum (WFP FF), are charged with the overall responsibility for animal welfare in our supply chain. Members of the LSG are all livestock experts from Waitrose and its dedicated suppliers, and our technical team has significant animal welfare training. Courses completed by our in-house team include Bristol University’s Poultry and Animal Welfare Officer training and the University of Highlands and Islands’ course on Fish Welfare.