The move is part of the retailer's pledge to deliver value products that never compromise on quality, sourcing, or animal welfare standards.
'A Landmark Achievement'
Mike Baker, CEO of RSPCA Assured, said, “M&S’s move to offer 100% slower-reared, RSPCA Assured fresh chicken is the biggest positive change to chicken farming in a generation.
"It’s a landmark achievement for animal welfare, which we hope will set a leading example for other retailers."
In line with the Better Chicken Commitment, the retailer has moved to Hubbard breed, which complies with higher welfare standards, M&S added.
The birds feed on a multigrain diet, designed to support slower natural growth and muscle development, while also ensuring the best flavour for customers.
The farmers ensure that their poultry gets 20% more space alongside an enhanced environment, with more pecking aids and perches to encourage natural behaviour.
'Raising The Bar'
Andrew Clappen, technical director at M&S Food, stated, "This year marked 25 years since we first introduced 100% free-range whole eggs and we were the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment. When it comes to chicken, we want to keep raising the bar to improve welfare - it’s something we know our customers care deeply about and we do too.
“Improving animal welfare is an important part of our trusted value commitment – we are introducing slower-reared, higher-welfare chicken offering better quality and better flavour for our customers.”
Marks & Spencer added that customers have responded well to the Oakham Gold chicken, which was introduced in 2020.
Dr Tracey Jones, global director of food business at Compassion in World Farming, said, “We applaud M&S for leading the UK retail sector, having successfully transitioned their entire fresh chicken supply to the criteria of the Better Chicken Commitment.
“The rollout of their ‘Oakham Gold’ fresh chicken is testament to their ongoing commitment to improving the lives of the chickens in their supply, by using more robust breeds that lead longer, healthier, and more fulfilled lives."