Tesco to list Freedom Food whole ducks

Tesco is set to introduce a higher-welfare whole duck to its own-label poultry range.

The Tesco-branded whole duck, which will go on sale during 2013, will be reared to RSPCA Freedom Food standards, and the retailer is also said to be considering extending its range of duck meat portions.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Animal welfare is an important and sensitive issue for many of our customers and we take our responsibilities in this area very seriously. Following a review of our product range, we will be offering our customers duck reared to RSPCA Freedom Food standards in 2013.”

The retailer, which currently accounts for around 26% of the retail market in duck meat, confirmed that it will still stock duck products that are reared to Duck Assurance Scheme standards, rather than Freedom Food standards.

The RSPCA welcomed the announcement, saying Tesco was the first supermarket to change the policy on duck-sourcing since the launch of the RSPCA ‘like a duck to water’ campaign in September. The charity argued that only a third of the 14.7m ducks reared for meat comply with its stringent welfare standards and vowed to continued to prompt supermarkets to only stock meat from ducks that had full access to bathing water. It said more than 16,000 people emailed Tesco and other supermarkets as a result of the campaign, which aimed to highlight the number of ducks being reared for meat which did not have full body access to water.

Eloise Shavelar, RSPCA campaign manager, said: “We will now be working with Tesco to recognise its efforts in this area, being the first supermarket targeted in the campaign to take the issue of duck welfare seriously and change its policy. We hope other retailers will follow suit and help improve the lives for millions of ducks.

However, the RSPCA said it would continue to “mobilise concerned members of the public to contact Asda, Morrisons, The Co-operative Food and Waitrose, who do not source any duck meat from farms that provide ducks with full body access to water and therefore do not provide a higher-welfare duck meat option to their customers”.

However, a spokesman for The Cooperative said that it takes animal welfare very seriously and that this was a top priority for many of itscustomers. It confirmed that while it did not not currently stock any fresh duck in Co-operative own-brand, it did stock a branded fresh duck in some stores which is reared to the Duck Assurance Scheme standard.

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