New figures have shown that shoppers trust the RSPCA 'Freedom Food' label as they know the products it appears on have been independently assessed for animal welfare.
Research by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)* has found that over four in five (81 per cent) meat shoppers are attracted by higher animal welfare standards and almost two thirds (63 per cent) buy Freedom Food products because of its association with the RSPCA.
Many companies create their own welfare standards which lack the credibility provided by an independent, trusted organisation like the RSPCA.
Director of Sainsbury's Brand, Judith Batchelar, said: "At Sainsbury's we work with a number of independent and trusted organisations who verify the high standards at which we and our suppliers operate. Whether that's the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for sustainable fish, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for timber, or, in this case, Freedom Food for animal welfare.
"We believe in meeting and exceeding the very best independently-monitored standards and working collaboratively to improve those standards, which is why we remain committed to the Freedom Food RSPCA logo."
The Freedom Food label has become a trusted symbol for consumers and shows that high standards of welfare conditions for animals have been met and independently monitored by the RSPCA - ensuring that animals are properly cared for and have plenty of space to roam and express their natural behaviours.
Sainsbury's is the UK's largest retailer of Freedom Food branded lines, selling over 300 products from farms accredited by the RSPCA. Sales of Freedom Food eggs, pork, chicken, turkey and ham have gone up by almost 10 per cent over the past year alone. Later this month, Sainsbury's will also be the first UK supermarket to introduce Freedom Food canned ham in a new cold canned meats range.
Leigh Grant, Chief Executive of Freedom Food said: "This news reinforces the fact that people really do care about farm animals but with an increasing number of different food labels on offer, it can be confusing to know what to choose.
"So when it comes to farm animal welfare, the message we want to get across is that Freedom Food is the only label backed by the RSPCA. This means you can be sure that the food you are buying has come from animals whose conditions have been inspected at every stage of their lives, not just on the farm, to RSPCA welfare standards.
"We are really delighted that Sainsbury's shoppers are continuing to show their commitment to helping farm animals by choosing Freedom Food."
Sainsbury's supports thousands of British farmers and producers and has already made firm, long standing commitments to animal welfare. All fresh eggs sold in Sainsbury's are 100 per cent British and have been cage-free since 2009. By 2012 any eggs used as an ingredient in Sainsbury's own brand food will be from cage-free hens. Additionally, all of Sainsbury's own label free range and organic eggs are sourced from UK Woodland farms, specially selected for their commitment to raising hens in a more natural environment,
Further initiatives towards higher animal welfare include the Freedom Farrowing trial currently underway at Sainsbury's own pioneering 'Concept Farm' in East Yorkshire. The new farrowing crates mean that the sows and their piglets have even more room to move around and nest which in turn encourages healthy, happier piglet growth. It is the first commercial trial of its kind on this scale in Europe and if successful could be taken up by our other pig farmers, improving the welfare of millions of pigs.
*Source: IGD ShopperTrack
Notes to editors