Over 90% of pigs are kept on 1,400 modern commercial farms and the rest on some 10,000 smallholdings and smaller farms. The majority are kept indoors. During the next fifteen to twenty years, the global population will continue to rise, placing unprecedented pressures on the supply and demand for the global food system. An increase in the more affluent middle classes will further impact the dynamic as a more western diet is sought around the globe. Competition for land, water and energy will intensify, compounded by the impacts of climate change.
In recent years intensive production of pig meat has been the subject of high profile campaigns highlighting a range of welfare and environmental concerns. Concerns have been expressed over the amount of energy that is used, quantities of waste generated, pollution of air, soil and water and inhumane treatment of animals. At the same time the industry faces increasing scrutiny over standards of food safety and biosecurity. Farming also faces an ever increasing social challenge due to the lack of young people willing to engage in an industry which is seen as challenging with low rewards.
We have a proud history of working with the agricultural community to provide the highest quality meat that our customers expect while minimising our impacts. Through our Farming for the Future
programme we are working with suppliers and farmers 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. For instance, one of the reasons why we weren’t affected by the horsemeat scandal of 2013 was due to the controls we already place on ingredients.
We source in the region of 15,000 tonnes of fresh pork annually from over 100 farms in the UK. We are strong supporters of the UK farming industry and try and source locally wherever possible to deliver the freshest food for our customers.
We have been widely recognised as a leader in supporting sustainable livestock practices. We have invested in research and innovation for many years in order to develop and improve farming practices that benefit farmers and the environment.
Our approach to sourcing pork responsibly focuses on:
Establishing and maintaining clear minimum sourcing standards
Supporting programmes that further our understanding and build capacity within our supply chain
Supporting programmes which enhance the lives of people and communities
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.
We work closely with industry experts and scientists to develop our approach to sourcing. We have a long-term partnership with FAI Farms
who provide animal welfare knowledge and direction and are responsible for managing our independent data collection and supply chain research on outcome measures. We also work closely with our suppliers to evolve our sourcing approach and standards.
We liaise regularly with centres of excellence in sustainability and engage regularly with leading NGOs, including the RSPCA
, Humane Slaughter Association
, Levy Bodies and farming unions to ensure our approach and policies are current and meaningful.