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Ruminants such as beef cattle, sheep and deer are essential for maintaining our landscapes and habitats and the farms that rear them are an important part of local communities and the food system. 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. 

Fossil fuel markets are likely to become more volatile and unpredictable, potentially impacting the availability and cost of synthetic fertilisers and negatively impact farming practices accepted as the norm today. There is a perception that intensive livestock practices can lead to the pollution of air and water, deplete soil and diminish biodiversity. At the same time, farming faces an increasing social challenge due to the lack of young people willing to engage in an industry which is seen as challenging with relatively low rewards. 

We have a proud history of working with the farming community to provide the highest quality meat that our customers expect while minimising our impacts. Through our M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards and 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. 

Approach
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 37,000 tonnes of beef, lamb and venison annually from over 7,000 farms. We are strong supporters of the UK farming industry and try and source locally wherever possible to deliver the freshest food for our customers.

Beef 

All M&S beef comes from the UK, with the only exception being Irish beef for stores in Ireland. All our beef is DNA traceable back to the farm and individual animal. 

Lamb All M&S lamb is produced in the UK or New Zealand and is labelled clearly with the country of origin. All our fresh lamb is from UK farms all year round. Earlier this year we committed to sourcing 100% of our fresh lamb from M&S Select Farms in the UK, a commitment we honoured in June 2020.
Venison We only sell farmed venison as we believe it offers better taste and is a more consistent product. However, there is limited availability in the UK so in addition to sourcing a small volume of farmed venison from the UK we work with a small number of deer farmers in New Zealand. Our strict traceability means we can trace each joint of venison to the farms where it was produced. From April 2021, all our farmed venison will be sourced from the UK.
In 2018, we extended the coverage of our interactive supply chain to include details of our beef supply chain.

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.

In 2019, we again topped the annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, a position we've held since 2013. We were awarded Sustained Excellence in the RSPCA Good Business Awards 2011 and our policy on high welfare veal was highlighted as one of our top 5 achievements in animal welfare.

Our approach to sourcing beef, lamb and venison responsibly focuses on:
Establishing and maintaining clear minimum sourcing standards
Minimum sourcing principles
Our Technical Terms of Trade set out our minimum technical expectations for suppliers to meet. They also set out our position on a number of areas. 

Nothing is more important to us than food safety. We believe our product standards are industry-leading. We require all products to be made by suppliers who are technically competent within their specific area and who operate well-managed hygienic locations applying Good Manufacturing Practice, a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach and due diligence to ensure safety, legality, integrity and consistent quality. Find out more about our approach to product standards.

The following minimum standards exist across our entire beef, lamb and venison supply chain:
  • We require complete supply chain traceability
  • As a minimum all our farms must be independently assured to UK Red Tractor standards (or equivalent) as well as meeting our own M&S Select Farm standards.
  • Sourcing must be in accordance with our Farm Animal Health and Welfare Policy
  • We do not accept livestock or progeny produced through cloning or genetic modification through transgenic methods
  • We require producers to adhere to our policy on responsible antimicrobial use. We do not permit routine use of antimicrobials and the use of growth promoting antibiotics and hormones is prohibited
  • Suppliers and farms must comply with the relevant M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards (see below)
All cattle, sheep and deer for M&S beef, lamb and venison must be processed by an abattoir on the M&S approved list of facilities for slaughter. Find out more about our approach to raw materials, commodities and ingredients. 

Our suppliers are also required to meet the requirements set out in our Global Sourcing Principles. Find out more about our approach to supplier management.
M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standard - Beef
Beef is an important raw material for M&S and with a decreasing number of beef farmers across the UK we wanted to adapt our sourcing approach to ensure we had improved security of supply moving forward.

Historically, we operated two different procurement methods for beef dependent on whether it was used for fresh supply or used as an ingredient. 

We have a strong heritage of sourcing with integrity. 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. Whilst we believe our audit standards are robust and industry-leading, we know we cannot be complacent. 

All beef used in M&S for both fresh and ingredient use must be sourced from M&S Select Farms and comply with our beef traceability requirements. We have also introduced a single cattle standard that requires beef to come only from steers and heifers up to 36 months of age with all animals having to be sired by bulls on an approved breed list. 

Our M&S Select Farm Assurance standards for beef have been developed in collaboration with suppliers, industry experts and NGOs. They cover criteria such as traceability and integrity, animal health and welfare, medicines and biosecurity, feed and water, vermin control, facilities for housing and shelter, calf rearing, transport, environmental protection and biodiversity, documentation, and worker health, safety and welfare.

We have introduced DNA traceability across our beef supply chain that enables us to trace beef in a pack on shelf back to the exact animal it came from.

We do not permit the rearing of calves for white veal, only rose veal. 

All feed should be sourced from a verifiable approved source (e.g. AIC Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS) or Feed Material Assurance Scheme (FEMAS)) which also meets our specification.

We prohibit the addition of any animal or avian derived by-products in any of our cattle feed (the only exception to this is milk and milk by-products). The diets are generally: 

  • Grass (preserved as silage or hay in winter)
  • Barley, wheat or maize – whole or processed (milled, etc)
  • Legumes and oilseeds – whole or processed
We do not permit the feeding of antibiotics or hormones for purposes of growth promotion. Where veterinary medicines are administered due to ill health strict withdrawal periods are met to ensure no traces of the medicine remain in the meat.

Farms raising cattle for M&S organic beef must comply with the organic standards for beef laid down by UK approved Certification Bodies listed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).


M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standard - Lamb
Currently all M&S lamb is produced on specially selected known and audited farms to M&S Select Farm Assurance standards.

These standards have been developed in collaboration with suppliers, industry experts and NGOs. They cover criteria such as traceability and integrity, animal health and welfare, medicines and biosecurity, feed and water, vermin control, facilities for housing and shelter, casualty and fallen stock, transport, environmental protection, documentation, and worker health safety and welfare. 

All feed should be sourced from a verifiable approved source (e.g. AIC Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS) or Feed Material Assurance Scheme (FEMAS)) which also meets our specification.

We prohibit the addition of any animal or avian derived by-products in any of our lamb feed (the only exception to this is milk and milk by-products). The diets are generally:

  • Grass (preserved as silage or hay in winter)
  • Root crops
  • Barley, wheat or maize – whole or processed (milled, etc)
  • Legumes and oilseeds – whole or processed
We do not permit the feeding of antibiotics or hormones for purposes of growth promotion. Where veterinary medicines are administered due to ill health strict withdrawal periods are met to ensure no traces of the medicine remain in the meat. 

Farms rearing lambs for M&S organic lamb must comply with the organic standards for lamb. In the UK these are laid down by UK approved Certification Bodies listed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).


M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standard - Venison
All M&S venison is produced on specially selected known and audited farms to M&S Select Farm Assurance standards. 

These standards have been developed in collaboration with suppliers, industry experts and NGOs. They cover criteria such as traceability and integrity, animal health and welfare, medicines and biosecurity, feed and water, vermin control, facilities for housing and shelter, fawn rearing, casualty and fallen stock, transport, environmental protection, documentation, and worker health, safety and welfare. All deer are required to calve outside in fields. 

All feed should be sourced from a verifiable approved source (e.g. AIC Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS) or Feed Material Assurance Scheme (FEMAS)) which also meets our specification.

We prohibit the addition of any animal or avian derived by-products in any of our venison feed (the only exception to this is milk and milk by-products). The diets are generally:

  • Grass (preserved as silage or hay in winter)
  • Barley, wheat or maize – whole or processed (milled, etc)
  • Legumes and oilseeds – whole or processed
We do not permit the feeding of antibiotics or hormones for purposes of growth promotion. Where veterinary medicines are administered due to ill health strict withdrawal periods are met to ensure no traces of the medicine remain in the meat.


Ensuring good animal health and welfare
We are committed to ensuring that the highest standards of animal welfare are adhered to in all our supply chains.

We have a long-term partnership with FAI Farms who provide us with animal welfare knowledge and direction and are responsible for managing independent collection of our outcome measures data and input upon supply chain research.

Our M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards have been designed to support our suppliers to meet our high standards on animal welfare. These are based on the ‘Five Freedoms’ recommended by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Committee:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress
Our farms must be committed to rear, handle, transport and slaughter under conditions of minimum stress, within minimal environmental impact and with full regard to animal welfare. 

We record welfare outcome measures on our UK beef and lamb supply chains. This data is collected on all M&S Select animals and independently collated by FAI Farms (see below).


Improving environmental practices

In beef and lamb production, there is often substantial variation between farm's geographies and production systems. Therefore, we aim to encourage all our beef and lamb producers to continually improve their environmental management in a way that is relevant to their farm. During the M&S Select Farm audit, all our producers are invited to provide evidence of good environmental practice and are encouraged to continue developing these initiatives with each subsequent audit. 

Labour standards
Our direct suppliers are responsible for ensuring every site supplying M&S, including farms, meet our minimum labour standards which are set out in our Global Sourcing Principles.

Treating employees fairly is the only way to do business and keeping them safe is the important priority of all. Unfortunately, health and safety statistics show that farming is one of the riskiest industry sectors. 

Ethical requirements for Select Farms are set out in the M&S Select Farm Sourcing standard for each species. We’ve developed supplemental guidance to help our farmers meet these requirements. 

Designed specifically for farms we’ve developed simple to use tools to help farmers:

  • Review the health and safety risks on their site and identify how to communicate them effectively to workers
  • Understand the steps they need to take to effectively screen new workers to ensure they have the right to work and are of the right age
  • Provide contracts to ensure farmers and their workers are clear on their contractual rights and responsibilities
  • Accurately record hours and provide payslips to workers


Supporting programmes that further our understanding and build capacity within our supply chain
Farming for the Future
We introduced Farming for the Future in 2010 as our programme of initiatives which champions sustainability, innovation and continual improvement. It exists so that we can deliver our commitment to source our raw materials for food products from the most sustainable sources possible.

Farming for the Future is about us helping the farms in our supply base meet our M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards and address the challenges ahead by finding opportunities to improve efficiency, environmental performance and ethical practice. This will make their businesses more resilient and profitable, ensuring that they can continue to deliver quality and innovation for the long-term whilst reducing their impact on the world around them. In turn, this delivers security of supply for M&S. 

We have worked with our farms to identify the key sustainability hotspots that impact the beef, lamb and venison sector, which are:

  • Nutrition
  • Grassland management
  • Fertility and health
  • Soils and nutrients
  • Water and environment
  • Supply chain structure and producer engagement

We are working to address these challenges through our beef and sheep supply base who have been supported in making changes in their businesses to drive sustainability. They have saved in excess of £400,000 over the last 3 years from implementing efficiency measures. We have been supported in this process by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and ADAS.  


Research and innovation
We have invested in R&D and innovation for many years in order to improve livestock practices that benefit farmers and the environment. Research and innovation is a key element of our Farming for the Future programmeOur approach is to work collaboratively with our suppliers and farmers to establish the need and then align with the most relevant industry research partner.

We work closely with centres of excellence, such as universities, agricultural colleges and research institutes, to ensure our products and processes remain up to date and industry leading. 

Our current priority areas for research of relevance to beef, lamb and venison are:

  • Ongoing development and rollout of Welfare Outcome Measures
  • Development of Outcome Measures to understand environmental impact including collaboration with Cool Farm Alliance
  • Responsible use of animal medicines use
  • Grassland utilisation


Outcome-based measures
In recent years there has been a shift away from focusing on farming systems and input standards towards also measuring and seeking to improve the impact of supply chains on the environment, ethics (for people and animals) and economic elements of a production system.

We are currently developing these sustainability outcome measures and we will use this information, alongside the latest science, to better understand the challenges we are facing together with our suppliers. This outcomes-based approach will allow farmers to pioneer their own solutions and innovations to make progress. This flexibility and creativity is crucial for tackling some of the long-standing challenges to sustainable food production.

We have developed specific sustainability measures for the beef and lamb sector including welfare measures and these are in the process of being rolled out across our supply base as follows:

Category Sustainability Measures 
Welfare Measures
Liveability Not available currently 
Disease Percent (%) animals with part and whole condemnations 
Percent (%) animals with internal parasites (e.g. liver fluke) 
Percent (%) animals with lung conditions 
Injuries Percent (%) animals with injuries 
Mobility Not available currently 
Behaviour Not available currently 
Environment Measures 
Climate Change Percent (%) total energy use from renewable source 
Land System Change Proportion (%) of diet in competition with human diets (non-forage based) 
Proportion (%) of diet components from certified sustainable sources 
Freshwater Use Percent (%) total water use from renewable/recycled water use (non-mains) 
Biodiversity Percent (%) of total area not in production, set aside and managed for wildlife or protected and condition (if known) 
Percent (%) total land (Ha) that is protected (including SSSI, SPA, ELS/HLS, etc) and condition (if known) 
N and P Flows Presence / absence of soil testing programme (annually / 2 years / 5 years / none) 
Proportion manure handled under safe management and storage 
Chemical Pollution Percent (%) total waste routinely recycled 
NOTE: Measures are recorded on all groups within the M&S fresh supply. Welfare outcome measures are captured on all animals at slaughter and processing. Environmental measures are collected annually. Where environmental 'outcome' measures are not currently available or practical to collect, 'input' measures are used in the interim (those shown in italics). 

We’re currently working with our partners to develop automated methods of data capture to ensure robust and independent outcome measure recording over time. 

Since 2017, we have reported on a number of animal health and welfare measures for beef and lamb (see below). 

We aim to use this data to shape future production standards and drive a continual improvement culture across our farm supply base.


Supporting programmes which enhance the lives of people and communities
Lamb Pledge
All fresh lamb is from UK farmers that have been audited and are M&S Select Farm Approved.

Agricultural education
To help encourage young people into the agricultural industry, and to support the development of those already in it, we have set up an education programme. This was developed collaboratively with our suppliers and aims to equip individuals with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience they need at several stages of their agricultural careers.

We are working with colleges, supporting apprenticeships and offering bursaries, work placements and study scholarships too. So far over 200 young people have benefited from this investment in their future. For example, we are supporting a degree student at Harper Adams University College, with a scholarship in partnerships with Rabobank. This will see the student spend their year-out work placement with M&S working on projects with our agriculture or agronomy teams. 

We also run ‘walk the supply chain’ events with a number of colleagues annually to enable students to get an insight and an understanding around the issues and challenges in food production and retail. 

We have also developed a unique executive education programme – the M&S Agricultural Leadership Programme – in association with Cranfield University School of Management. This five-day programme sees high potential young people learn about leadership, sustainability and supply chain management. So far the programme has had 70 delegates from across our supply base taking part and feedback has been excellent. Find out more about the ALP from one of its recent participants.



Performance summary
M&S Select Farm Assurance Audits
We have put appropriate assurance arrangements in place to check that our suppliers meet our requirements.

If a supplier fails to meet the standards we will work with them to make changes to improve performance. However, if our standards continue not to be met, they will be removed from our supply. Find out more about our approach to supplier management.

Our direct supplier is responsible for undertaking the M&S Select Farm Assurance audit to the full scope of our standards. During 2019/20, Lloyd's Register also performed a number of shadow audits and spot checks to ensure consistency with our standards. Find out more about our approach to M&S Select Farm Assurance Audits.
M&S Welfare Audits

During 2019/20, FSIG carried out Welfare Audits of the primary processors to ensure transport, lairage and slaughter all meet our requirements. Find out more about how our suppliers are performing.

Key performance measures
We're committed to reporting on our use of animal welfare and environmental outcome-indicators. Since 2017, we have reported on a number of key measures as seen below:


Beef Supply

Reported Measures

Beef Fresh and Ingredient Supply (including frozen)

Number of animals

334,560

Maximum transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

6.5

Average transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

3.6

Proportion (%) of finisher herds pre-stunned prior to slaughter

100

Proportion (%) of eligible animals that received an ineffective stun1.26


1 From 2017 we moved to reporting calendar year.   Previous years data was reported in a financial year basis, i.e. April to March.




2019

Outcome measureFresh & Ingredient Supply (including frozen)

Number of animals299,080
DiseaseTotal lung conditions (Pleurisy/pneumonia/abscesses) (%)3.32
Total with liver abscesses (%)3.15
Total with heart conditions (%)0.20
Total other internal parasites (Lungworm, hydatid cysts, c.bovis) (%)0.04
Total other conditions (%)2.67
InjuryTotal cattle with abscesses (fore/hindquarter, neck) (%)0.21
MobilityTotal cattle with joint lesions/arthritis (%)0.05



Rose Veal Supply

Measures

All supply - Rose Veal

Number of animals

4,705

Maximum transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

2

Average transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

1.5

Proportion (%) of finisher herds pre-stunned prior to slaughter

100

Proportion (%) of eligible animals that received an ineffective stun1.50


Lamb Supply

Reported Measures

UK Supply Fresh and Ingredient (including frozen)

NZ Supply Fresh & Ingredient (including frozen)

Number of animals

265,254

6,057,573

Maximum transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

6.3

8.0

Average transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

2.5

4.3

Proportion (%) of finisher herds pre-stunned prior to slaughter

100

100

Proportion (%) of eligible animals that received an ineffective stun0.310.01

 



2019

Outcome measureUK Supply Fresh and Ingredient (including frozen)

Number of animals179,690
DiseaseTotal lung conditions (Pleurisy/pneumonia/abscesses) (%)2.77
Total with liver abscesses (%)0.14
Total with heart conditions (%)0.11
Percent lambs other internal parasites (lungworm, hydatid cysts, c ovis, cysticercus tenuicollis, cysticerus ovis)6.29
Total other conditions (%)2.041
InjuryTotal lamb with abscesses (fore/hindquarter, neck) (%)0.36
MobilityTotal lamb with joint lesions/arthritis (%)0.21



Venison supply

Reported Measures

2019

Number of animals

4,065

Maximum transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

6

Average transport time (hrs) to factory across all animals (including loading and unloading)

4

Proportion (%) of finisher herds pre-stunned prior to slaughter

100

Proportion (%) of finisher herds that have undergone velveting process

0

Proportion (%) of eligible animals that received an ineffective stun0.05


1 From 2017 we moved to reporting calendar year.  Previous years data was reported in a financial year basis, i.e. April to March.

We aim to use this data to shape future production standards and drive a continual improvement culture across our farm supply base.

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, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), Humane Slaughter Association, Levy Bodies and farming unions to ensure our approach and policies are current and meaningful.