Nestle today (21 August) set out moves it says will improve the welfare of animals in its supply chain.

The company said the “major pledge” includes spacing requirements for pigs and cows to ensure they are not cramped and can engage in normal animal behaviour.

Nestle has teamed up with NGO World Animal Protection and said the new commitments will mean the farms that supply the food giant “will have to comply with tighter animal welfare standards”.

Benjamin Ware, manager of responsible sourcing at Nestle, said: “We know that our consumers care about the welfare of farm animals and we, as a company, are committed to ensuring the highest possible levels of farm animal welfare across our global supply chain.”

The Herta meat products maker said it has commissioned an independent auditor, SGS, to carry out checks to ensure the new standards of animal welfare are met on its supplying farms. This year, several hundred assessments have already been carried out. Some of the checks are also attended, unannounced, by World Animal Protection representatives to verify the auditors.

When a violation is identified, Nestle will work with the supplier to improve the treatment of farm animals to ensure they meet the required standards. If, despite engagement and guidance from Nestle, the company is unable or unwilling to show improvement, it will no longer supply the business, the world’s largest food maker said.

Mike Baker, chief executive of World Animal Protection, said: “Our decision to work with Nestlé is based upon their clear commitment to improving animal welfare and the lasting change this can have on millions of farm animals around the world.”