Pigs are incredibly intelligent , which is why we only work with farmers who really understand the animals in their care.

We are the first UK-Wide retailer to switch to 100% Outdoor Bred Pork. From July all of our own-brand fresh pork, bacon, sausage, gammon and ham will be sourced from 100% outdoor-bred pigs on RSPCA Assured farms. Our Co-op Pork Farming Group doesn’t only share our commitment to high standards of animal welfare but complies with RSPCA assured welfare standards which covers every aspect of the pig’s lives including feed and water, how they’re manage, health care and transport. The standards are designed to ensure animals have everything they need for a better quality of life.

Meet the producer - Phil

We headed to Oxfordshire to show you how our Irresistible British pork products are produced.

Phil is a pork producer from Oxfordshire and is part of our Pork Farming Group. Phil is one of 46 farmers in Co-op’s Pork Farming Group who have been awarded a gold standard for their production of pork for Co-op. So his farm reaches the high standards set by Co-op in areas like animal welfare, ethics and sustainability.

To achieve gold, Phil works hard to reduce his farm’s carbon footprint. The straw for the pigs at the breeding farm is sourced locally wherever possible, and so is the grain they’re fed on. After 28 days, the piglets go to a ‘growing unit’, with drinking troughs designed to avoid water wastage, and energy-saving bulbs. ‘I’m proud to be gold standard,’ Phil says. ‘It really means a lot.’

A fourth generation farmer, Phil got into pig farming about three years ago. ‘Even as a kid, I was always helping around my dad’s farm at harvest time,’ he recalls. ‘I’ve learnt that a lot of it is about routine — you have to check, check and check again, making sure the pigs are healthy and happy.

‘It’s not so great when things go wrong, or when it’s freezing cold and raining, but when everything’s going smoothly, it is great. I guess it has highs and lows like any job, really — if you work in an office and can’t connect to the internet, it’s really annoying. And it’s no different on a farm — except for me, the problem will be a burst pipe…’

The breeding farm’s 750 sows are divided into seven groups. Every three weeks, a different group will give birth, before weaning their litter. Depending on where they are in the breeding cycle, the sows are fed a special diet and kept on an area of the farm tailored to their needs — always with access to the open air and plenty of space, straw, food, water and places to wallow.

At the growing unit, the pigs live in temperature-controlled, light barns. Each pig’s minimum space allowance exceeds the requirements of Freedom Food standards, and each pig has permanent access to food and water — so there’s no fighting over first dibs at the trough. Boredom’s also kept at bay, with barrels to kick around, wood to chew and straw to roll in, to mimic their natural environment. ‘You can never have too much straw,’ Phil says, seriously.

  • From July all our fresh pork, bacon, sausages, gammon and ham will be sourced from 100% Outdoor-Bred pigs on RSPCA Assured farms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • All our pork farmers are accredited to a national farm assurance scheme, RSPCA. This scheme covers aspects of the whole pigs lives and ensures piglets are born outdoors, where the sows are free from confinement and are able to fully express their natural behaviours. They will then be raised in well-ventilated, spacious straw barns to RSPCA welfare standards on farms across the UK. These farms also work with an independent third party to measure their performance and to drive long-term improvement. The Co-ops dedicated agriculture team also visit these farms when possible throughout the year, as well as undertaking welfare checks at abattoirs.

    Find out more about animal welfare