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Over 90% of pigs are kept on modern commercial farms and the rest on 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 farming community to provide the highest quality meat that our customers expect while minimising our impacts. Through the M&S Select Farm and Farming for the Future programmes, 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 fresh pork annually from over 300 farms in the UK. We are strong supporters of the UK farming industry and try to 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.

We have topped the annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare since 2013. We were awarded Sustained Excellence in the RSPCA Good Business Awards 2011, in 2012 Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) awarded us the Good Pig Award for our outdoor bred pigs;  and our recent move to 100% British, Outdoor Bred, RSPCA assured pigs has been highlighted as one of our top 5 animal welfare achievements.

Our approach to sourcing pork 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 pork supply chain:

  • We require complete supply chain traceability
  • As a minimum all our farms must be independently assured to UK Red Tractor standards (or M&S approved EU equivalent), additionally all Out Door Bred Pork is RSPCA assured
  • Sourcing must be in accordance with our Farm Animal Health and Welfare Policy
  • All our Pork whether fresh or ingredient in produced in Free farrowing systems. The use of confinement farrowing in Charcuterie and continental meats will be prohibited by December 2022
  • 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
  • UK labour providers used to provide temporary labour must have a valid license with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Suppliers and farms must comply with the relevant M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards (see below)
All pork 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 – Pork Production

All our Pork is produced on specially selected, known and audited farms.All our fresh pork is British and is clearly labelled with the country of origin. Our strict traceability means we can trace our fresh pork to the farms where it was produced.

Since April 2021, all our fresh and ingredient pork is Outdoor Bred RSPCA assured, Free Range or Organic.  By December 2022, our continental meats will be produced from Pork reared in free farrowing systems.

Where possible, we have chosen specific breeds of pig that are well suited to outdoor breeding and show good mothering ability. Their offspring are weaned at around 28 days and they are then housed in deep straw bedded barns. Compared to national assurance schemes we insist on 100% outdoor breeding, straw for bedding and comfort and provide pigs 25% more space. We do not permit castration and we are working with our supply base to develop plans to phase out the routine tail docking and tooth clipping of pigs.

Our M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards for pork 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 fall stock, transport, environmental protection, documentation, outdoor pig production, free range production, and worker health safety and welfare.

We have developed our own specification for the feeding of our pigs which ensures animals are fed a wholesome diet to maintain optimum health and welfare. All feed mills sourcing the raw material feed and formulating the rations are audited once a year. 

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 also require suppliers to source soy-containing feed to a standard that has been confirmed by the International Trade Centre's (ITC) Standards Map as meeting the requirements of the European Feed Manufacturers Federation (FEFAC) Soy Sourcing Guidelines. Find out more about our approach to protecting forests

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

  • 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 pigs for M&S organic pork must comply with the organic standards for pork laid down by UK approved Certification Bodies listed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Production of pork for further processing

All pork sourced for processed products manufactured in the UK such as standard tier ham, bacon, gammon and sausage is sourced from the UK and is Outdoor Bred RSPCA assured. 

All Charcuterie and Continental meats manufactured in the EU must come directly from EU farms that meet an M&S approved industry-standard Red Tractor Equivalent assurance scheme  

All pork must be processed by an abattoir on the M&S approved list of facilities for slaughter. It is the responsibility of the abattoir to ensure animals come from either an assured farm or an M&S Select Farm. Find out more about our approach to raw materials, commodities and ingredients.

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 our independent data collection and supply chain research and outcome measures.

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. 

Stocking densities (these are maximum figures):

Outdoor bred pork 30 sows per hectare 
Free range pork No more than 100 pigs per paddock with each paddock being at least 0.5 acres in area 

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 pig supply chains. This data is collected on all M&S Select animals and independently collated by FAI Farms (see below).

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 most 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 for 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 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 pork sector, which are:

  • Animal health
  • Water quality
  • Outcome scores (tail docking, bruising)
  • Slurry disposal
  • Feed
We are working to address these challenges through our pork supply base who have been supported in making changes in their businesses to drive sustainability. 

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.

Our 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 pork are:

  • Ongoing development and rollout of Welfare Outcome Measures (see below)
  • Development of Outcome Measures to understand environmental impact
  • Indoor non-confinement / free-farrowing systems for pigs
  • Responsible use of animal medicines
  • Tail biting
  • Survivability
  • Alternatives to CO2 stunning methods

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 have developed sustainability outcome measures that we use alongside the latest science, to better understand the challenges we are facing together with our suppliers. This outcomes-based approach allows 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 pork sector including welfare measures (see above) which we collect from our supply base.

We have developed specific sustainability measures for the pig sector including the following welfare measure which are reported across our supply base.

Category Sustainability Measure 
Welfare Measures
Liveability Percent (%) mortality on farm 
Percent (%) mortality during transport 
Disease Percent (%) total lung conditions 
Antimicrobial use by type, dose and treatment case 
Injury Percent (%) injuries and wounds 
Percent (%) tail bites 
Mobility Percent (%) lame animals (recorded at slaughter) 
Behaviour Maximum stocking density of group during finishing 
Presence / absence of enrichment provision (manipulable material) 
Environment Measures 
Climate Change Percent (%) total energy use from renewable source 
Land System Change Proportion (%) of diet in competition with human diets (non-foraged based) 
Proportion (%) of diet components from certified sustainable sources 
Freshwater Use Percent (%) total water use from renewable/recycled water use (non mains) 
Biodiversity Percent (%) 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, SAC, ELS/HSE, etc) and condition (if known) 
N and P Flows Proportion manure handled under safe management and storage 
Chemical Pollution Percent (%) total waste routinely recycled 
NOTE: Measures are recorded on all farm groups within the M&S fresh supply. Welfare outcome measures are captured at the time of depopulation and reported quarterly. 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. 

In 2017, we began to report on a number of animal health and welfare measures for pigs (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
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 2021 FSIG have step changed our select farm training and also helped integrate our select farm and factory audits to ensure we have a more coordinated and holistic approach to improving back to farm. 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. In 2017, we began to report on a number of key measures below:

Reported Measures
Fresh (UK)1Ingredient (UK)2Continental (EU)2
Number of animals185,060
Proportion (%) herds that are from non-confinement farrow: 

Outdoor bred 100610

Indoor free farrowed0421

Confinement farrowed (farrowing crate) 03679

Proportion (%) finisher herds that are reared as follows:

Group reared in straw-bedded barns 1006611

Indoor reared in slatted systems 03489


Proportion (%) of finisher herds provided with any behavioural enrichment100100100
Proportion (%) of finisher herds provided with the following enrichment:

Natural light 1007070

Manipulable material (e.g. straw) 1007490

Other objects (toys, chains, etc) 10010094
Proportion (%) of finisher herds undergoing mutilation procedures307569
Proportion (%) of finisher herds provided with the following mutilation:

Tail docked 307144

Tail docked (Full length)0212

Tail docked (Half length)305042

Teeth clipped/grind 0398

Castrated 0018
Maximum transport time (hrs) to factory across all groups (including loading and unloading)
Average transport time (hrs) to factory across all groups (including loading and unloading)
Average group mortality during transport (% animals dead on arrival) 0.0090.010.10.
Proportion (%) of animals pre-stunned prior to slaughter100100100
Proportion (%) of eligible animals that received an ineffective stun0.0002*

*Two suppliers did not provide this information for 2020

Pork data for 2020 are based on whole animal equivalents

1 Our standard for fresh pork is outdoor bred, however we do have regions where this is unavailable.
2 As of April 2021 all our fresh and ingredient pork is outdoor bred.  We have bought forward our commitment on removing all confinement farrowing for our continental meat supply from April 2025 to December 2022.
3 From 2017 we moved to reporting calendar year.  Previous years data was reported in a financial year basis, i.e. April to March. Reporting measures may have changed this year due to a realigning of our fresh and ingredient raw material business.  We now have an overall higher percentage of outdoor bred pork supply.
4 In line with our commitment to align our ingredient and continental supply with our standards for fresh supply increased enrichment is one of the areas of focus particularly in respect to manipulable material.

Fresh Pork

Outcome measure

Supply Result

% Farms meeting 2025 target

M&S 2025 Target for 95% of all Farms

Number of animals



Total mortality during transport (%)





Total PMI rejects / condemnations - whole condemnations (%)




Total pigs with skin conditions/lesions (%)





Total pigs with fight and bite wounds (%)




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, CIWF, Humane Slaughter Association, Levy Bodies and farming unions to ensure our approach and policies are current and meaningful.