Over 75 million animals are now produced under the RSPCA’s Freedom Food label, with a 30% increase in products sold in UK supermarkets over the past two years. The brand said these results proved consumers’ commitment to ethical food, even during the recession.
The increase was particularly noticeable in pigs, with an 84% jump from 1.4m in 2006 to 2.7m in 2011. The RSPCA said higher Freedom Food pigs now accounted for 28% of national pork production.
Chickens produced under the label went from 25m to nearly 40m birds in the same period, and now represent 5% of UK production.
RSPCA Freedom Food chief executive Leigh Grant said: “The trend for ethical purchasing has had a huge impact on farm animal welfare. Consistent consumer demand for Freedom Food products has helped millions more farm animals have a better life than they did just five years ago.
“But despite this growth, only around 8% of the UK’s one billion farm animals are under Freedom Food. And with some animals like ducks and turkeys dropping in number last year, there is clearly still much more work to do.”
The organisation has pledged to increase these numbers further in the next five years by urging consumers to spot the Freedom Food logo and pick higher-welfare products. “When shopping for products such as eggs, sausages and chicken, anyone who cares about animals can help by choosing those that have the Freedom Food logo on them, which means they come from farms inspected to the RSPCA’s strict animal welfare standards,” said Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animals science team.
According to the RSPCA, there are now more than 900 different Freedom Food-labelled products available in major UK retailers, including chicken, pork, duck and dairy products.