Game is growing in popularity as an alternative to more traditional everyday meats. Its value for money, versatility and nutritional benefits (e.g. it’s low in fat and rich in iron) have helped maintain this popularity. Game birds and ground game (e.g. rabbit) are free range and eat a natural foraged diet. Game also makes an important contribution to the livelihoods of remote rural communities and the local food system.
Management of game estates is essential in helping preserving the countryside and enhances biodiversity. However, natural habitats can be impacted if game becomes heavily populated and stocking densities are not managed carefully. Conservation groups have also expressed concerns about the way in which birds of prey have been managed on some estates in order to protect animal populations.
We work with one single expert supplier to responsibly source game from a very limited number of known and trusted estates. This ensures full accountability and traceability throughout the chain as well as protecting and enhancing natural habitats for a biodiverse landscape and managing animal welfare to the highest standards. Through our Farming for the Future programme
we are working with estate managers to help them address the ethical, environmental and economic challenges they face in order to maintain a long-term sustainable and secure supply.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead the retail sector in sustainable production and consumption, offering our customers the good value, high quality products and services they expect from M&S, while respecting planetary boundaries and the need for social equity. We recognise the integral role of animal health and welfare in sustainable food production and strive to continue progressing the highest welfare standards.
Our goal is to ensure that all our meat is produced to the highest standards of food safety and quality by farms that are operating sustainably. This commitment applies right across our business – from our fresh products to all the meat used as an ingredient in our prepared foods. These are global commitments and apply wherever we trade.
We have a strong heritage of sourcing with integrity. Over the years, we’ve taken significant steps to improve the sourcing of key raw materials in our products.
We are committed to offering a range of game for our customers when in season. Our offer currently includes pheasant, red legged partridge, rabbit and wood pigeon.
We will not tolerate any illegal practices. We source all our game through one expert supplier. They source from 27 estates located across Northern England and the Scottish Borders which are well-known to us. Whilst we don’t source from these locations directly we have developed close relationships with all of them.
Our approach to sourcing game more responsibly is as follows:
Establishing and maintaining clear minimum sourcing standards
Supporting programmes that further our understanding and build capacity within our supply chain
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.
The work that we have undertaken in developing our Codes of Practice for Game Species is considered ground-breaking for the industry and we could not have achieved it without close co-operation with other organisations. In particular, we have worked closely with the estates that supply us, with the GWCT
and other leading conservation bodies.