CUSTOMERS will be able to buy 100 per cent ‘outdoor-bred’ fresh pork produce in Co-op stores across the North-East from tomorrow.

All own-brand fresh pork, bacon, sausage and gammon products on Co-op shelves will be obtained from 100 per cent outdoor-bred pigs. which have come from RSPCA Assured farms.

The move, which was announced in March, means that all pigs within its producer group will be born outdoors and raised in well-ventilated, spacious straw barns to strict RSPCA welfare standards.

Last week, the Co-op also received a Compassion in World Farming ‘Good Pig Award’ in recognition of the new policy.

The 100 per cent outdoor promise covers both standard and premium Co-op ranges.

Jo Whitfield, the Co-op’s retail chief executive, said: “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.”

Clive Brazier, RSPCA Assured chief executive, said: “Shoppers can be confident that, no matter what their budget is, all own-brand fresh pork products in the Co-op will be RSPCA Assured. This is a major step forward for helping improve pig welfare and we hope other retailers will follow suit.”

In May, the Co-op switched all of its own-brand fresh meat to 100 per cent British and has invested a further £1bn into sourcing home-grown meat and fresh produce.