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Brits still commit to farm animal welfare during tough financial times


The RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme today reported a 52% increase in animals farmed under its label over the last five years – which means that more than 75 million animals are now benefitting from the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards*.

The amount of Freedom Food labeled products in supermarkets has also increased 30% in the last two years.**

It is further proof, says Freedom Food, that ethical shoppers remain committed to farm animal welfare despite a tough economy.

This news echoes a prediction at the Oxford Farming Conference by Dr Alan Renwick*** that, “People buying RSPCA Freedom Food are more likely to stay loyal during the recession than organic buyers.”

It also follows The Co-operative Bank’s latest Ethical Consumerism Report (2010), that sales of Freedom Food labelled products tripled in two years to reach 122m****.

Freedom Food saw a rise in animal numbers from more than 49m at the end of 2006, to more than 75m at the end of last year. This means that about 26m more animals are now benefitting from being reared to the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards, compared to five years ago.

Pigs up 84%

The number of pigs under Freedom Food has grown nearly 84% – from 1.4m (2006) to 2.7m (2011) – including a 16% increase last year. This means pigs farmed under Freedom Food to RSPCA standards now account for about 28 per cent of UK pig production.

Chickens rise 60%

Chicken numbers have risen 60% in five years – from 25m to nearly 40m birds with a 13% rise last year. This accounts for about 5% of the 860m chickens farmed every year in the UK.

Other key figures include (from 2006 to 2011):

  • Egg laying hens increased 53% overall from 11.6m to 17.8m birds, despite a 6.28% blip last year. This means the vast majority of UK cage-free egg production is under Freedom Food
  • Ducks rose 21.5% from about 3.8m to nearly 4.7m but took a 28% fall last year. However, this still accounts for about 36% of UK duck production
  • Turkeys quadrupled from just over 247,000 in 2006, to more than 1.2m birds. However, dipped by about 10% last year

Leigh Grant, Chief Executive of RSPCA Freedom Food, 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 eight per cent of the UK’s 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.

“And we need people to help us. The more shoppers demand Freedom Food products, the more supermarkets will stock them and the more farm animals will have a better life.”

There are now more than 900 different Freedom Food labeled product lines available in major retailers, independents and online. These include chicken, eggs, salmon, pork, duck and dairy products.

For further information on Freedom Food visit

*All Freedom Food animal figures in this release were correct in December 2011

**This figure is based on license fee income for use of the Freedom Food logo from 2009 to 2011

***Head of the Land Economy and Environment Research Group at SAC (Scottish Agricultural College)

****Freedom Food market penetration has been calculated against Defra’s farm census 2008

The RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme is the only UK food labelling and farm assurance scheme dedicated to farm animal welfare.

It approves farms, hauliers and abattoirs to strict RSPCA farm animal welfare standards, covering animals from birth to slaughter. The scheme also offers a robust traceability system. When people see the distinctive logo on food they can be confident that the animal has been cared for to higher welfare standards, with the backing of one of the most respected animal charities in the world.

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