MARKS & SPENCER has accelerated its timetable for switching its fresh chicken to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) by four years, meaning it will be the first British retailer to do so.

It said that by Autumn 2022, all fresh chicken (23.5 million a year) would both meet the BCC requirements and be RSPCA Assured.

See also: 25% of UK poultry supply chain signed up to Better Chicken Commitment

Processed and ingredient chicken will be switched to the BCC standard by 2026.

Only Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have signed up to the BCC of the UK’s major retailers despite sustained pressure on supermarkets to make the change.

M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin said: “M&S has a long history of leading on animal welfare standards, working with our M&S Select farmers we know and trust.

‘Raise the bar’

“We were the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, the first major retailer to move to 100% Free Range eggs, and all our pork is 100% outdoor bred.

“We already have the biggest range of RSPCA Assured products on the market, but we constantly want to raise the bar – that is why we are making this industry-leading commitment.

“It will lead to a step-change in UK farming standards and show customers that our determination to maintain the highest welfare standards means they will always get exceptional quality and trusted value at M&S.”