100% of our fresh beef is British and produced to Red Tractor standards. Our buyers source cattle directly from breeder / finisher farmers located across the UK. We have known many of the 1,700 farmers we buy from directly for many years, and share details with them on their carcass grading and other key indicators, including cleanliness and health. A good quality, healthy animal demonstrates high commitment to welfare as well.
In 2020 we introduced new and progressive standards for beef from the dairy herd, which includes welfare outcomes including:
- Cattle seen to be able to express normal behaviours within the building
- Cattle seen with good body condition score
- No lameness or lesions caused by lack of space or comfortable lying areas.
- Clean cattle
- No excessive coughing / respiratory disease
To further help animal health management, we are members of the UK BVD Free initiative and encourage all beef producers to be part of an active BVD eradication scheme. We are also carrying out research and practical training into the factors on farm which affect the eating quality of the meat we buy.
We also monitor beef going into our ingredient and processed products. We have strict requirements avoiding meat from tethered animals. We do not have any product which has been farmed in veal crates.
100% of our fresh pork is sourced from 101 UK pig suppliers, which have some of the highest standards in Europe and the world. Through Woodheads, we work directly with farmers and producer groups, buying pork to sell in our retail, manufacturing and wholesale businesses. Many of the farmers we work with have supplied us for generations. We are one of the biggest processors of British pork, with the expansion of our Colne site enabling us to process more UK pigs than ever before.
To meet our animal welfare objective of ensuring every animal in our chain is treated with care and respect and is content, we introduced a zero tolerance sourcing standard with suppliers for any issues on farm which cause animals undue suffering, pain or distress. Our Livestock Steering Group investigate, manage and where necessary, sanction issues arising.
As well as Red Tractor, we have introduced additional measures for the full range of pigs coming into our fresh pork supply including increased monitoring and checking of stock, training of staff and regular body condition scoring of the pigs at key times of life, in the form of a Bolt On Audit. This audit is conducted in the same visit as the Red Tractor audit, and is applicable to all of our fresh pork suppliers. A behaviour management plan is required to help manage and prevent incidences of tail, ear and flank biting and lameness, as is a more thorough application of environmental enrichment materials regardless of housing system, all of which will go towards an intention to stop the need to tail dock pigs. This includes the assessment of enrichment materials for optimal, suboptimal or marginal benefit, ensuring that all pigs have constant access to at least one enrichment material at all times to satisfy rooting behaviours, regardless of housing system.
The provision of environmental enrichment can also be part of a multi-factorial approach to mitigating the risks of tail biting and the need to therefore tail dock, as well as providing for the pigs’ need to forage as a behaviour. We published our own guide for farmers on Environmental Enrichment in 2017. In 2019, we began working on an environmental enrichment study with the University of Leeds to quantify how much and what type of enrichment is required as a compulsory requirement for pigs in our supply chain. The initial literature review was published in Winter 2019, with further work starting in 2021, to investigate the findings in practical trials. We are also looking to understand other aspects of farm practices that could contribute towards behavioural issues that may not be related to environmental enrichment, such as stocking density, genetics and overall health status.
Additionally, we have an established network of vets, farmers, academics, and our processing and retail colleagues to work collaboratively on projects.
In 2021, we began to significantly expand our sourcing of Outdoor Bred (ODB) pork. In 2020, 6.2% of pork in our fresh supply chain was sourced from ODB systems.
As well as sourcing more ODB, we are reviewing how we source pigs, with the overall aim of increasing the proportion from free farrowing systems. Currently 4% of our fresh pork supply is from free farrowing.
100% of our fresh lamb is British and produced to Red Tractor standards. Our buyers sourcing sheep have known many of the 1,100 farmers we buy from directly for many years, and feed back details on their carcass grading and other key indicators, including cleanliness and health. A good quality, healthy animal demonstrates high commitment to welfare as well.
We source nearly three quarters of a million lambs from UK farmers each year. Our early season spring lamb usually begins in mid May, with the earliest spring lamb coming mainly from North Wales, where the milder climate allows for early lambing. Our sourcing moves North, and into Scotland as the season progresses.
Developments to the lamb programme have included monitoring antibiotic use, including the removal of routine use.
All Morrisons-label Fresh Chicken is 100% British. We work through a small number of UK processors to deliver fresh chicken and our poultry farmers are some of the most efficient, sustainable and welfare conscious in any sector. Each processor works with a number of local farmers in their particular region of the UK and host producer group meetings which we are a part of where possible.
Work into chicken welfare has been going on for a long time; in 2011 we were the first major supermarket to introduce natural lighting into all our chick units following research into chicken behaviour with the University of Bristol. Many farms have installed biomass heating systems to turn chicken manure into heat, while all actively monitor a number of key welfare indicators.
In 2020 we introduced an upgraded standard for welfare in our fresh chicken ranges, which can be viewed here. This very progressive standard focuses on positive behaviour outcomes as well as setting targets for in-house hatching and staff training. We monitor and manage key inputs such as antibiotic use, stocking densities and key welfare indicators including pododermatitis, hock marks, leg culls and mortality rates every month. We benchmark and anonymously share all results among all our suppliers, working together to consider innovations, research and information needed to support and improve best practice.
Having successfully trialled the Hubbard Redbro in 2020 which displays improved welfare outcomes, we announced in February 2021 our intention to lay down breeding flocks and introduce a range of fresh chicken grown to the principles of The Better Chicken Commitment, which will be in stores in early 2022.
- 100% of male chicks were used from hatch;
- 100% of catching team members are trained on animal welfare;
- 100% of wagon drivers are trained to a recognised certificate in bird welfare;
- 73% of farm workers in our suppliers’ employment have already received training to at least Level 2 work based diploma in Poultry Production, with Farm and Area Managers receiving Level 3 qualifications. Additional training in Advanced Poultry Health & Welfare is also being arranged in 2021.
- 100% of feed supplied to flocks was milled in the UK, with the majority of suppliers milling their own feed;
- 54.1% of farms had a natural light provision of more than 3% light provision. This figure is continuously improving and changing due to the acquisition of new sites by different suppliers.
All our fresh turkey is sourced to at least Red Tractor standards. No desnooding takes place in this chain. The key welfare indicators that are monitored against both industry standards and internal target figures in our turkey production include mortality rates, leg culls, presence of pododermatitis, antibiotic usage, stocking densities and rejects. Our standards also include reward based environmental enrichment, specifically the birds should be provided with sawdust bales and pecking objects.
We do not sell any own brand fresh duck, and therefore do not currently report on species specific welfare outcomes for ducks. However, all ducks in our other own brand supply (processed and ingredient) are raised to Red Tractor standards or equivalent.
Whether caught in the wild or farmed, we carefully review the sources of all fish and seafood used in our products, making sure they meet important criteria before entering our products. This process looks at stock levels, fisheries management practices, location of catch, gear types and production systems among many other metrics. Scientific advice, certification against credible third party standards and engagement with NGOs plays an invaluable role in helping shape our approach and helps us identify supply chains operating to industry best practice.
Consideration of welfare for fish being processed aboard boats does not yet form part of any mainstream vessel standards. However, it is our ambition for fish welfare to be incorporated as standards develop, once they have wider adoption and as technology develops to enable vessels to safely adopt best practice.
We source more than 10 different farmed species for use in our products, including:
- Atlantic salmon
- Rainbow trout
- Sea bass
- Sea bream
- Whiteleg shrimp
- Giant tiger prawns
We recognise that fish like other animals are sentient, capable of feeling pain and a range of emotions and see training and knowledge of the care requirements for particular species as essential to the application of good welfare standards at farm. All colleagues involved in the management, handling and crowding of fish must be trained in welfare standards specific to the particular species. We have also delivered supplementary training for key technical colleagues involved in the sourcing of fish, supported by the North Atlantic Fisheries College.
Third party certification against standards including Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Global Aquaculture Alliance, Best Aquaculture Practices or Global G.A.P. plays a fundamental role in our approach to sourcing farmed seafood and certification is required at farm, hatchery, feedmill and processing site. These standards include the requirement for clearly defined animal health management plans developed in accordance with expert veterinary / professional guidance and outline the approaches taken to disease control, stress mitigation, water quality management and routine health testing.
Policy: In addition to third party standards, our 2020 revised policy for fish and seafood sourcing also sets limits on a range of farm practices which are integral to fish welfare. These include stocking density, periods for time out of the water essential for grading or treatment and periods for crowding, as well as requiring the welfare needs of any cleaner fish to be specifically accounted for. More information can be found in our Farm Animal Welfare Progress Report.
Antibiotics: In line with our antibiotics policy, we do not advocate any routine prophylactic use of antibiotics. The use of antibiotics identified as critical for human health are specifically prohibited in our policy. Antibiotics should never be used as a substitute for good animal husbandry.
Pre-slaughter Stunning: We are committed to working with our suppliers to help understand and support the adoption of best practice in pre-slaughter handling and stunning. All bass, bream, halibut, pangasius, trout and salmon supplied into us are required to be stunned through electro and percussive stunning. We continue to support and promote the use of stunning for other species as part of continuous improvement.
Fish feed: As well as farms and hatcheries being certified we also aim to have all of the marine ingredients used in our fish feed certified to the International Fishmeal & Fish Oil Organisation (IFFO) standard, helping to ensure a responsible approach for the production of these ingredients. This will help us ensure the feed used in our aquaculture supply chains meets the same high standards of our wild capture policy.
Welfare outcomes: Following the re-launch of our Fish policy in 2020, all farms supplying key fish species (salmon, trout, bass, bream and pangasius) are now required to report monthly welfare outcome measures which include metrics related to mortality, medicines use, disease prevalence and stocking density. This reporting process will also account for the welfare of cleaner fish where they are used within sites.
We care about the eggs we sell, the farms they came from and how the hens that lay them are looked after. That’s why 100% of our eggs are produced on British farms certified to British Lion Quality Standards laid down by the Egg Industry Council and 100% of our eggs are RSPCA Assured.
As of February 2020, 100% of shell eggs going into stores (both branded and own-brand) are from free range hens, and by 2025, 100% of the egg used in our own brand ingredients and processing will also be from hens who do not live in cages.
Since February 2018, we have owned our own egg packing facility (Chippindale Foods) and buy the majority of our shell eggs directly from farmers, along with one other family owned business, who work closely with groups of local farmers in their local area. We have recently invested in egg processing capability and been able to commence supply of liquid egg as an ingredient into our manufacturing operations through our site at Chippindale Foods, which is a key part of our progress towards our cage free ingredient egg commitment.
We monitor key welfare measures for the hens who supply the eggs we all enjoy. These measures include feather scores, keel bone assessment, mortality, antibiotic usage, housing type, litter management and environmental enrichment provided. We also require that all end of lay hens are stunned before slaughter.
We monitor beak trimming in both our broilers and laying hens. Most laying hens in our supplier network are still beak trimmed, and this is always conducted in accordance with industry best practice to ensure minimum impact on the overall beak integrity. Organic foods do not undergo beak trimming, which gives our customers a choice.
We support the aim to farm laying hens with their beaks intact through research, training and consultation with our own farmer groups, including projects studying enrichment materials, breed choice and rearing systems. We are also in contact and discussion with members of the Laying Hen Welfare Forum to share learning where possible.
We've been working hard to gather data on our usage of egg as an ingredient. A total of 790 Own Brand products at Morrisons include egg as an ingredient, therefore it has been important to fully understand where we use the most egg in ingredients, and create a strategy by which to move more and more products to using eggs from cage-free systems.
As of 1st July 2021, a minimum of 465 products use eggs from cage-free systems, which equates to 59% of Own Brand products at Morrisons. These figures will be updated frequently on our farming website as we keep working across the business towards our 2025 goal of sourcing all ingredient eggs from hens in cage-free systems.
100% of our fresh milk is British and supplied by a group of aligned Morrisons farmers from the Arla farmer co-operative. In March 2019, we became the first retailer to commit to the Arla UK 360 farming standards across our entire Arla milk supply, meaning that from 30th September 2019, approximately 170 Arla farmer owners have been directly supported by Morrisons across five key business areas including animal health and welfare, community engagement, environmental management and business resilience.
In addition to Red Tractor standards, we ask all farmers supplying milk to us to monitor and report measures including lameness assessments, mastitis, body condition scoring, cow comfort, cleanliness, culling (including involuntary culling), hair loss and lesion scoring, health recordings, infectious disease occurrence, longevity and antibiotic use. All herds need to be supported by an active veterinary herd health plan which sets targets and action plans for improvements. The data reported by farmers is benchmarked against the group average and fed back to individual farmers. Arla also has full visibility of the data to allow any necessary support and advice to be provided to farmers and help deliver improvements in their performance on these welfare measures.
Pain relief must be used when carrying out any stockman’s tasks such as disbudding, dehorning and castration. Information is also shared between farms to encourage the selection of polled breeds. All Morrisons farms have an active National Johne’s Management Plan in place and also have active plans in place to manage BVD, Leptospirosis and Neospora as applicable.
All information is anonymously benchmarked and shared for improvements within the group. Farmers meet twice a year for practical workshops to help share information on key topics, focus on specific welfare topics such as lameness or mastitis and what they can implement on farm to manage these issues, as well as having access to newsletters and a dedicated farmer portal for further knowledge exchange.
We also have very clear guidelines for all our Morrisons’ dairy farmers, which states that no healthy calves are to be shot, slaughtered or exported. All calves must be raised as pairs or a larger group from a few days old which is ahead of the 8 weeks of age legal requirement. No individual crates are to be used.
In order to ensure good compliance with our requirements, 100% of calves born on a Morrisons aligned Arla farm are tracked through either the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) or Livestock Information Programme (LIP) system, currently with visibility up to 6 months of age. As the technology advances, we aim to be able to ensure governance is in place up to 12 months of age for all calves born onto a Morrisons aligned Arla farm. A robust process is in place to manage any non-compliance to this very important standard, where farms would be individually supported to find an appropriate market for their calves; we work closely with Buitelaar and Woodheads to ensure our dairy farmers have a market for their dairy bulls.
We have strict requirements in avoiding any animals which have been tethered or tail docked in our own brand fresh, ingredient and processed products.
The milk from our ‘Milk for Farmers’ range is guaranteed to come from cows that have grazed for at least 120 days every year. Depending on the season, the amount of grazing days available for our cows can extend. In 2020 our cows were grazed for an average of 224 days; we update this result on an annual basis and can be seen here.
We monitor the health and welfare of all cows in our dairy supply chain, to ensure their health and welfare meets our standards at all times and that regardless of housing systems, welfare is not compromised.
CHEESE AND OTHER DAIRY
100% of our cheddar cheese is British and sourced to at least Red Tractor standards. As with our fresh milk supply, we have very clear guidelines which state that no healthy calves are to be shot, slaughtered or exported from the UK. All calves must be raised as pairs or a larger group from a few days old which is ahead of the 8 weeks of age legal requirement. No individual crates are to be used.
We have strict requirements in avoiding any animals which have been tethered or tail docked in our own brand fresh, ingredient and processed products.
As well as a ‘Milk for Farmers’ range, we also sell cheese and cream as part of the same range, with the same requirement regarding having at least 120 days of grazing every year.
Beef from the dairy herd provides us with lean meat; it’s also a much more sustainable way for those dairy herds not using sexed semen to find a market for their dairy bulls and can provide a valuable business opening for new entrants in the beef sector.
We pioneered our dairy bull calf scheme, established within our farming research programme in 2009, which now processes approximately 30,000 dairy bull calves per year. This provides additional income for dairy farmers and reduces the need for them to cull or to export live animals from the UK. We work closely with this supply chain, and are developing a learning programme with them to support contracted farms in key health and welfare measures to improve the quality of life and product of the calves they care for. We are also part of a steering group with the Royal Agriculture University looking at reducing the use of antibiotics in this production system.
Our partnership with Buitelaar has seen them awarded with the Good Calf Award in 2019 through Compassion in World Farming, and the award for Supply Chain Initiative of the Year (The Grocer, 2018). Our continued work with Buitelaar and Arla has also led to our most recent award from Compassion in World Farming; the Good Calf Award 2020 recognising our commitment for 100% of dairy beef to be sourced from higher welfare farms by 2025. We are continuing this positive work by developing additional farm and animal welfare standards for dairy beef producers in the form of a Bolt On Audit, which launched in June 2020.
Our dairy beef initiative has given us the chance to work with Young Farmers groups and local markets to help new entrants. They have been able to establish a business through our youngstock scheme, as we buy the young beef stock for rearing on farms, deducting the initial price they were bought for from their final price at abattoir.