Three British supermarket chains are in the running for an animal welfare award sponsored by the Independent.

Members of the public can vote for Marks & Spencer, the Co-op or Sainsbury to win the People’s Choice Award, which will recognise the retailer that has done most to increase animal welfare over the past year.

Voting will take place over the next four weeks and the award will be presented at the RSPCA’s Good Business Awards on October 7.

Many of Britain’s 926m farm animals endure poor conditions, but supermarkets are taking positive steps to improve them following high-profile campaigns by the chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver.

A judging panel shortlisted the three supermarkets.

Among their inititiatives, the Co-op has given more space, ventilation and a more stimulating environment to 20 million chickens and will ban products made from caged eggs by the end of this year.

In addition to its long-standing free-range egg policy, Marks & Spencer will only sell fresh pork reared in the outdoors and has banned Continental white veal in favour of higher-welfare British rose veal.

Sainsbury’s has banned fresh caged eggs and moved all Scottish salmon to the RSPCA Freedom Foods scheme, of which it has the largest selection on the high street.

TV presenter and journalist Richard Johnson, one of the judges, said: “TV coverage on the plight of chickens and pigs has had a profound effect on the public and customers want to buy from supermarkets who make being animal-friendly easy by using suppliers that rear their animals with humanity.”

David Bowles, RSPCA head of external affairs, said: “Through the People’s Choice Supermarket award we want to give the public a chance to voice their opinions and reward the supermarket they believe has listened to them and made the biggest strides in improving animal welfare.

“This is the fifth year of the Good Business Awards and we felt it was important to reward the efforts being made by supermarkets.”


The Co-operative

Achievements include:

- First retailer to adopt RSPCA Freedom Food scheme in 1994 and stocks one of the largest ranges.

- By end of 2009 all eggs used as ingredients, in addition to fresh eggs, will be free range.

- All fresh & frozen chicken reared to higher welfare Elmwood standard – with natural ventilation, 30 per cent more space, an enriched environment and 50 per cent more darkness for rest.

- Truly Irresistible fresh pork, bacon and sausage ranges are from Freedom Food approved farms.


Achievements include:

- 100 per cent free-range policy for whole eggs since 1997 and for eggs as ingredients since 2002.

- Since 2002 all fresh chicken is either Oakham or free range Oakham chicken - slower grown with more space allowance and objects to peck and perch on.

- All fresh pork is outdoor bred and a proportion is free range.

- Banned continental white veal in 2008 and moved to higher welfare British veal.


Achievements include:

- Stopped selling eggs from caged hens February 2009, improving the welfare of over half a million hens.

- Own-brand Woodland Eggs and Woodland Chicken provides increased shelter and results in better animal welfare for a significant numbers of birds.

- All Scottish salmon is sustainably sourced and farmed to Freedom Food standards

- The supermarket has the largest range of RSPCA Freedom Food labelled products – chicken, eggs, duck, turkey, pork and salmon.


The public can vote online via the Independent ( ) or by texting either MANDS, SAIN or COOP to 60022. Public voting will close in September and the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, 7 October.