We’re fans of pigs at COOK. So much so, we named one of our core values after them: Churchill’s Pig. A.K.A. looking people in the eye, showing respect for each other's views and being honest.
And the honest truth is that not all pig farms are created equal. About half of the world’s pork comes from animals raised in what you would probably class as factories rather than farms: intensive systems that put yield and profit above animal welfare and sustainability.
Responsible sourcing of ingredients is a journey rather than a destination, and this is especially true when it comes to higher welfare meat. Richard (Technical and Sustainability Director) and Tony (Head of Supply Chain) and other members of our Technical team visit our main suppliers annually, build on existing relationships and forge new ones to ensure we’re on the right track. When it comes to pigs, higher welfare means a focus on the five freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury and disease; from fear and distress; and freedom to express normal behaviour.
All of our pork – which we also use to make our chorizo and our pork mince – currently comes from just two farms: Dingley Dell and Packington. The pigs on both farms are reared to the highest welfare standards, as recognised by the RSPCA.
So we were over the moon to hear that we had won a Good Pig Award from Compassion in World Farming this year. To date, more than 2.5 million sows and meat pigs are set to benefit from the Good Pig Award and the organisation’s 2011 ‘Leadership in Pig Welfare’ award winners’ policies … so it’s far from just a trophy-cabinet filler.
Richard and Tony were up at 4am and made the long journey to Berlin to attend the award ceremony. ‘Throughout the evening, we heard some amazing stories of businesses that have made incredible efforts to drive change,’ Tony said, ‘which made us feel very proud, knowing that we were there to receive an award that everyone at COOK had worked hard for and believed in.
‘Richard gave a brilliant speech that would rally any business to move to higher welfare, while I stood there doing my best QVC presenting impression. It may be a small glass award but it is heavier than it looked … and provided much amusement the next day as I watched Richard trying to explain to the German security guards at the airport what the strange item in his hand luggage was!’
Now the award is safely back at the COOK Kitchen, it stands in pride of place alongside our Good Egg Award from 2011. Which begs the question: what’s the next stop on our journey?
Watch this space…
Tony Mayer, Head of Supply Chain
Richard Pike, Technical and Sustainability Director