The Co-operative Group has announced that from July all of its own-brand fresh pork, bacon, sausage, gammon and ham will be sourced from 100% outdoor-bred pigs.

The announcement means all pigs within its producer group will be born outdoors and raised in well-ventilated, spacious straw barns, following strict RSPCA welfare standards on farms across the UK.

Co-op is working with Tulip Ltd, the UK’s largest high-welfare pig producer, to establish an RSPCA Assured pork supply chain across both its standard and premium ’Truly Irresistible’ own-label range.

The Co-op’s own-brand line-up will be available to Nisa and Coscutter-supplied retailers, providing the Co-op/Nisa deal is approved by the CMA next month.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive for Co-op Retail, said: “Our customers and members shop with us because they know we are as passionate as they are about animal welfare, so we’re delighted to be able to bring such a pioneering approach to our pig offering.

“The highest animal welfare standards should not just be the preserve of top-tier products and we want to ensure that the very best quality British pork is available at everyday affordable prices. We will be working hard with innovative and passionate British farmers who share our principles, to provide exceptional quality pork produce with a conscience.”

Steve Francis, cheif executive of Tulip Ltd, said: “We are delighted to strengthen our long-standing partnership with the Co-op to offer consumers greater access to great quality, higher welfare pork products sourced from farms in the UK. Tulip and Co-op share a rich heritage in food and farming and a firm commitment to championing British agriculture. The 100% RSPCA Assured outdoor bred promise will provide Co-op shoppers with the confidence that their pork products are produced responsibly and ethically to industry-leading welfare standards.”

In May 2017, the Co-operative Group switched to using 100% British fresh meat across its own-brand range, alongside a £1bn investment in sourcing home-grown meat and fresh produce.