Marks and Spencer (M&S) has announced it has become ‘the first major retailer’ in the UK to source all of its non-organic milk from RSPCA Assured dairy farms.
All 37 farms that supply fresh milk to the M&S Milk Pool have achieved the certification and the supermarket’s non-organic fresh milk packaging now carries the RSPCA Assured logo.
The move means that the 150 million pints of milk sold in M&S stores every year will come from farms with the highest animal welfare standards. RSPCA Assured standards cover all aspects of cow welfare associated with milk production, including calf rearing, accommodation, health planning, transport, feed and grazing.
M&S has also published the RSPCA Assured assessment reports for each of its Milk Pool supplier farms as part of an interactive online map. The map shows customers where M&S milk is sourced from, summary results for each farm and a link to download the full assessment report.
Steve McLean, head of agriculture and fisheries at M&S, said: “We know how much animal welfare matters to our customers and that they expect the highest standards from us. RSPCA Assured standards are the highest in the dairy industry and we are proud of our farmers who work hard day in, day out, to enable us to achieve this for our Milk Pool.
“RSPCA Assured standards are the toughest in the business. We’ve supported those farms that had work to do to achieve them, but I’m pleased to say every farmer has stepped up and delivered everything we and RSPCA Assured has asked of them.”
RSPCA CEO Clive Brazier added: “Thanks to M&S, thousands more dairy cows will now have a better life reared to RSPCA welfare standards. And not only that, for the first time ever consumers will be able to buy RSPCA Assured labelled milk in a high street retailer.
“This is a major step forward for improving dairy cow welfare and we hope other retailers will follow suit.”
The M&S Milk Pool was set up in 2000 to give M&S farmers the stability to enable them to invest for the future. Today is has 37 farms spread across the UK delivering fresh milk into M&S stores and cafés.
RSPCA welfare standards are now the minimum standards for the M&S Milk Pool, and RSPCA Assured assessors will assess farms annually.
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