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Stink or Swim

The ten factory farm corporations producing more toxic excrement than the UK's ten largest cities



Intensive agriculture is the main cause of river pollution incidents in England and is reponsible for more pollution entering rivers than water companies. It has been linked to the ecological collapse of the river Wye in Wales and Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. It is estimated that just ten large agribusinesses are responsible for the bulk of this waste. Collectively, they produce the equivalent of over 120 double decker busloads of excreta per hour - almost tdouble what is produced by the 10 largest UK cities.

These agribusinesses concentrate in certain areas of the UK and supply to all the major UK retailers. None have publicly available strategies capable of preventing this waste polluting our rivers and air. The companies named in this report were contacted for further information, and their responses are on the Sustain website.

Much greater scrutiny of polluting agribusinesses is needed to meet targets for nature recovery, air and water pollution and climate change.

Download this report as a PDF

The agribusinesses responsible for thousands of tonnes of waste per day


Table 1: The UK’s 10 largest intensive livestock agribusinesses, showing the average number of animals in production at any one time in their supply chains, and estimated volumes of waste produced. More information about the businesses analysed is in Annex A.


Estimated number of animals in production at any one time


Estimated excreta produced


Meat chickens

Egg chickens



Dairy cows



Tonnes /day












Avara Foods










Bernard Matthews


















Moy Park





Noble Foods





Pilgrim's Pride















Credit: Sustain. Methodology

Three companies dominate intensive chicken production, with Hook2Sisters, Moy Park and Avara Foods collectively responsible for an estimated 110 million chickens at any one time. For pigs, Cranswick and Karro have nearly an estimated 3 million pigs in production between them. Just one business – Arla – dominates intensive dairy production, with 460,000 cows.

Collectively, these 10 companies own over 144 million animals and are responsible for up to 55,262 tonnes of animal excreta per day. By comparison, the 10 largest cities in the UK produce around 30,000kg of excreta per day. Factory farm animal waste is usually untreated and spread on nearby fields where it washes into rivers. A 2022 study on phosphate pollution in the Wye catchment found that the largest source of phosphates was from manure produced in factory farms and spread on agricultural fields.

A proportion of manure is used for energy generation through anaerobic digestion or incineration, producing digestate and ash as byproducts, which are widely used as fertiliser. Feedback have raised concerns about large-scale anaerobic digestion, saying it ‘at best provides a sticking plaster to problems like food waste and the intensive livestock industry, and at worst it is actively expands polluting industries’.

Intensive livestock production is on the rise. According to Compassion in World Farming, the number of intensive livestock units in the UK has increased by 20% since 2016. This is increasingly concentrating resources, wealth and power in the hands of a few global corporations. The ten companies included in this analysis are owned by just five parent companies.

The concentration of power in the farming industry is hurting farmers. Last year Sustain reported that large agribusinesses are seeing turnover grow and paying millions to company directors, while contract farmers are struggling to make ends meet. Sustain’s ‘unpicking food prices’ report found that often farmers receive just 1% of profits for common food stuffs like cheese, beefburgers, carrots and bread.

Agribusinesses lack satisfactory policies to prevent pollution

Most of the UK’s largest agribusinesses have no publicly available plan or policy for managing their waste to prevent it from polluting rivers, air, or nitrate vulnerable zones and nature conservation sites when it is transported off site. For companies that do have policies in place, most lack detail, timelines or targets to reduce pollution.

Table 2: Analysis of waste prevention and pollution minimisation policies of the UK’s 10 largest intensive livestock agribusinesses, using publicly available data such as environmental, sustainability and animal welfare reports and annual reports.




2 Sisters

No publicly available strategy or policy available



- Provides financial incentives for environmentally friendly practices, including optimisation of nutrients from manure, storage and redirecting slurry to biogas plants.

- Arla also say they want to see increased government support for anaerobic digesters.

- No policy to prevent waste sent off-site from polluting air and water

- Anaerobic digestion has been found to have failed to solve nutrient pollution issues.

-  No timelines or targets for reducing pollution or reducing waste.


- The company claims chicken manure is not sold as fertiliser within the River Wye catchment. Instead, it is exported to farms and processing facilities outside of the catchment. This means that up to 75% of chicken manure, or 2,000 tonnes a week, is exported out of the Wye catchment.

- The company claims that any Avara farms that spread their waste on their fields are required to undertake an audit process under ‘Red Tractor linked soil assurance standards.’ As far as we can ascertain, this standard is a pilot scheme rolled out to under 1% of farms in Avara supply chains.

- Exporting chicken manure outside the Wye catchment risks moving the pollution problem elsewhere. A significant proportion of UK soils are in nutrient surplus and almost all rivers in England and Wales have been assessed as poor quality. 55% of England is designated as a nitrate vulnerable zone, which means that it is sensitive to additional nutrient pollution. Avara do not disclose where nutrients are sent, with the River Severn to the east and the Avon to the south, we would like to understand how Avara is mitigating potential impacts in these and other polluted catchments.

- Spreading large quantities of nutrient rich manure on any soils presents a risk to the UK’s collapsing freshwater systems. You can read Sustain’s analysis of this policy in full here.


No publicly available strategy or policy available


Bernard Matthews

No publicly available strategy or policy available



- Cranswick has an objective to manage farmlands so that contaminants from manure do not enter the water system.

- No detail on how this objective will be met, or what happens to waste exported offsite.

- No timelines or targets specified.


No strategy or policy available


Moy Park

No strategy or policy available


Noble Foods

- Noble Foods is collaborating with the Wye and Usk Foundation to assess farms and put mitigation measures in place to reduce the impact of farming on water.

- Lacks detail. No publicly available strategy for managing run-off risks outside of the river Wye catchment.

- No timelines or targets specified.

Pilgrim’s Pride


(see also Moy Park, as Moy Park is a subsidiary of Pilgrims Pride)

- Claim to assess water risks on farms before housing pigs.

- Claim to carry out research and development projects to improve water stewardship.

- Claim to conduct supply chain mapping and risk assessment, issuing advice within high-risk catchments.

- No mention of restrictions or a strategy for where, when and how slurry is managed or spread

- No timelines or pollution reduction targets specified.


Which agribusinesses are polluting your area?

The major agribusinesses in the UK describe themselves as having ‘vertically integrated supply chains’, meaning they either own or have relationships with suppliers and do not need to source from an open commodity market.

Agribusiness operations are clustered geographically, often around processing facilities, which reduces transportation costs and times. We have mapped the processing facilities (slaughterhouses) and intensive livestock units (factory farms) that each agribusiness either owns directly or for which they are named as a person of significant control. The areas in which they operate, within which they source their livestock, have been estimated from the companies’ animal welfare reports and, in some cases, direct correspondence with the company.

The following maps estimate the areas of operations of the dominant agribusinesses. The maps cover Avara, Pilgrim’s Pride, Moy Park, Cranswick, and the subsidiaries of Boparan Holdco Limited and Boparan Private Office Limited, which includes Hook2Sisters and 2 Sisters Food Group and Banham and Bernard Matthews respectively.

Our methodology for representing the areas of operation relies on slaughterhouse locations and livestock travel time information. Due to the lack of available data, maps were not produced for Arla, Noble Foods and Karro.

Map 1: Avara Foods areas of operation in the UK

Avara. Credit: Sustain

Credit: Materiality / Friends of the Earth / Sustain

  • Large squares show intensive livestock units for which Avara, or its subsidiaries, is a person of ‘significant control’ (according to Companies House listings)
  • Crosses show slaughterhouses for which Avara Foods is a person of ‘significant control’ (according to Companies House listings)
  • Small grey squares show intensive livestock units (see our definition of factory farms)


Map 1 shows the area of operation for Avara Foods, one of the largest chicken producers in the UK. Avara Foods has over 30 million chickens in their supply chain at any one time. The shaded area on the map indicates Avara’s area of operation, reproduced from the map in Avara’s 2022-23 Animal Welfare Report. Given the location of processing facilities and units over which Avara has ‘significant control’, it is likely that most intensive livestock units in Avara Foods’ supply chain are situated in the region around the rivers Wye and Severn, and in the Northeast of England. It follows that a significant amount of waste associated with Avara’s supply chain is likely to be produced in these regions.


Map 2: Moy Park areas of operation in the UK

Moy Park. Credit: Sustain

Credit: Materiality / Friends of the Earth / Sustain

  • Large squares show intensive livestock units for which Moy Park, or its subsidiaries, is a person of ‘significant control’ (according to Companies House listings)
  • Crosses show slaughterhouses for which Moy Park, or its subsidiaries, is a person of ‘significant control’ (according to Companies House listings)
  • Small grey squares show intensive livestock units (see our definition of factory farms)

According to Moy Park’s 2022 Animal Welfare Report, the company avoids transporting birds over long distances, and a majority of its farms are located within a 30-mile radius of its fresh primary sites. It also reports that less that 0.5% are transported more than 4 hours. Darker shading therefore shows the likely location within which ‘the majority’ of Moy Park’s 35 million chickens are housed. From this, we can see that most intensive livestock units (and waste produced from these units) in Moy Park’s supply chain are likely to be in the East and West Midlands, Northwest and Northeast England and Northern Ireland. The primary supply areas overlap with Lough Neagh and the River Bann in Northern Ireland, and with the rivers Trent and Witham in England.


Map 3: Cranswick areas of operation in the UK

Cranswick. Credit: Sustain

Credit: Materiality / Friends of the Earth / Sustain

  • Large squares show intensive livestock units for which Cranswick, or its subsidiaries, is a person of significant control (according to Companies House listings)
  • Crosses show slaughterhouses for which Cranswick, or one of its subsidiaries, is a person of significant control (according to Companies House listings)
  • Small grey squares show intensive livestock units (see our definition of factory farms)

According to Cranswick’s 2022 Animal Welfare report, the company sources most of its animals from farms near its large regional slaughterhouses. Darker shading shows the likely area within which the majority of Cranswick’s poultry and pigs are sourced. This includes 100% of chickens in the region of the Crown poultry slaughterhouse in Norfolk, 75% of pigs for the Norfolk pig slaughterhouse, 81% of pigs for the pig slaughterhouse in Yorkshire and 51% of pigs for the Northern Irish pig slaughterhouse. Therefore, it is likely that most intensive livestock units and most waste associated with Cranswick’s supply chain in Northern Ireland overlaps with the River Bann and Lough Neagh, and in England with the Trent, Ouse and Humber River basins, and multiple rivers within East Anglia.


Map 4: Pilgrims Pride areas of operation in the UK

Pilgrims Pride. Credit: Sustain

Credit: Materiality / Friends of the Earth / Sustain

  • Crosses show the location of large slaughterhouses for which Pilgrim's Pride, or one of its subsidiaries, is a person of significant control (according to Companies House listings)
  • Small grey squares show intensive livestock units (see our definition of factory farms)

According to its Animal Welfare Policy, Pilgrim’s Pride transport animals nearly four hours on average and up to eight hours, indicated by the darker and lighter red shaded areas respectively. Its 750,000 pigs are therefore most likely to be sourced from across England and Wales. It was not possible to locate the intensive livestock units owned or controlled by Pilgrim’s Pride, apart from those which operate under the Moy Park brand. Moy Park is a subsidiary of Pilgrim’s Pride and shown in Map 2.


Map 5: Boparan Holdco Limited and Boparan Private Office Limited (including 2 Sisters, Banham and Bernard Matthews)

Boparan. Credit: Sustain

Credit: Materiality / Friends of the Earth / Sustain

  • Large squares show intensive livestock units for which Boparan Holdco Limited, Boparan Private Office Limited, or their respective subsidiaries is a person of significant control (according to Companies House listings)
  • Crosses show the location of large slaughterhouses for which Boparan Holdco Limited, Boparan Private Office Limited, or their respective subsidiaries is a person of significant control (according to Companies House listings)
  • Small grey squares show intensive livestock units (see our definition of factory farms)

This map charts the facilities where Boparan Holdco Limited, Boparan Private Office Limited, or their subsidiaries is a person of significant control, including Hook2Sisters, 2 Sisters Food Group and Bernard Matthews and Banham Poultry respectively. According to 2 Sisters’ 2019 animal welfare report, most of its chickens were sourced within 6 hours, the lighter shaded area. Correspondence with 2 Sisters Food Group revealed that Boparan Holdco and Boparan Private Office subsidiaries operate facilities within the darker shaded area.

Polluting agribusinesses’ links to major retailers

Figure 1: Links between UK retailers and meat chicken and pig companies included in this report.

Credit: Materiality / Friends of the Earth / Sustain

Figure 1 shows the operational links between meat chicken and pig companies analysed in this research, the UK’s major retailers, and the large conglomerates that act as holding companies. For example, Avara Foods supplies Asda, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco, and is owned by US agribusiness giant and soy producer Cargill. US meat giant JBS is the holding company for Moy Park and Pilgrim’s Pride, but Moy Park is also a subsidiary of Pilgrim’s Pride (it was sold to the company in 2017).

The intensive livestock industry in the UK is characterised by the concentration of power and profit in the hands of a small number of large corporations. All the major UK retailers are linked with at least one agribusiness included in this investigation. Five large conglomerates, including international ones, such as Cargill and JBS, act as holding companies for eight of the companies assessed in this report.


Recovering our rivers, tackling the climate and nature emergency and improving air quality requires that all polluters take responsibility for the waste they produce.

National Governments

Halt the development of new intensive livestock units or the expansion of current intensive livestock units in river catchments where nutrient loads are exceeded, or rivers are in unfavourable condition until and unless operators can prove a new development or expansion of an existing development would pose no risk to freshwater systems through nutrient pollution and until and unless monitoring, oversight and compliance are put in place to ensure that agribusinesses are operating in a manner that does not pose a risk to freshwater systems.

Give regulators powers to sanction polluting agribusinesses (not just sewage companies), including banning payment of executive bonuses.

Restore funding of environmental regulatory and delivery bodies to at least 2010 levels (in real terms) so that they have the resources and skills to enforce standards for river testing and regulation enforcement, with a strong commitment to the polluter pays principle and penalties for non-compliance.

Create equitable and just incentives for operators of intensive livestock units to transition to more sustainable systems.

Support sustainable farming systems, which enhance rural communities, are able to produce more fruit and vegetables per hectare, employ more people and keep wealth within communities.

Reform the planning, consenting and permitting system, and make river pollution and climate change material planning considerations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All development decisions must be required to consider pollution in the wider catchment and demonstrate how they adhere to local and national targets for nature recovery and pollution mitigation. All intensive livestock units – including dairy units - must be required to get planning permission and have an environmental permit.

Introduce a roadmap to make sustainable and healthy food affordable and accessible, following the Eating Better Alliance’s roadmap to a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption and production by 2030. Include minimum standards for public sector food, and mandatory emissions reduction reporting and targets for large retailers.

Introduce a new Business, Human Rights and Environment Act to require UK companies to carry out due diligence to prevent environmental harm and human rights abuses in their supply chains.

Introduce into UK law a new human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, as recognised by the UN General Assembly.

Local Authorities

Join Planning for the Planet and adopt local planning policy to prevent the further spread of intensive livestock units in your area.

Support sustainable food and nature-friendly local producers through procurement.

Establish a Sustainable Food Partnership (or work with them, if you have one already).


Adopt measurable and timebound targets to prevent excreta from polluting rivers, including recording and reporting on the end-destination of all waste, and not spreading waste in catchments in which rivers are in unfavourable condition.

Provide contracted farmers with financial support to store and dispose of manure produced by livestock in your supply chains in a manner that does not increase the nutrient pollution of freshwater systems.

Include Scope 3 emissions in climate change reporting and targets.

Back Friends of the Earth’s calls for a new Business, Human Rights and Environment Act.


Response from Retailers

The agribusinesses and retailers named in this research were contacted for a response. Retailers were asked to tell us whether they were adopting measurable and timebound targets to prevent excreta from polluting rivers, and implementing a plan to reduce scope 3 emissions. 

Sustain received a single response from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), on behalf of all the retailers named. No individual retailer gave their own information about how they are reducing emissions from the products they sell (ie ‘Scope 3’ emissions) or preventing river pollution.  

The BRC response, and further notes they provided, are below. It references two third-party commitments: 

  • The WRAP Courtauld 2030 Water Roadmap. WRAP’s 2023 report showed only around 50% signatories have undertaken the initial ‘risk mapping’ step. 

  • WWF’s Retailer Basket. The 2023 update reports ‘no indication’ of a reduction in Scope 3 emissions. It also shows minimal – if any – progress against targets to source from regions with sustainable water management, and minimal progress on sourcing animal products to ‘better’ standards. 

No information about the performance of individual companies is provided in the reports above. It is therefore not possible to recognise or congratulate good retailer practice, or hold laggards to account.  

The BRC also reference ‘frequent checks’ by the Environment Agency. It was recently reported that so few checks have been carried out in recent years that farms could expect to be visited every 263 years in England. Even with promised increases in inspections, it would take more than 30 years to get to each farm in England and Wales. 

We urgently need to see retailers phase out factory farming and start treating farmers fairly. They must fully adopt the calls in the #getfairaboutfarming campaign from Riverford and Sustain, and start supporting farmers to produce sustainable, healthy food which supports thriving farming communities.

As a first step, they should require full records of the end-destination of all waste produced on farms, and prevent the spreading of waste in catchments in which rivers are in unfavourable condition. 

We are in a climate and nature emergency and retailers are holding back customers from adopting better diets. They must adopt the measures in the Eating Better Alliance Roadmap towards ‘less and better’ meat and dairy. Policies to do so could include fairer pricing, marketing and product reformulation. 


In response to this research, a BRC Spokesperson, said: 

“UK supermarkets are focused on working with farmers, supporting farm systems that protect the environment and enhance nature and protecting resources and food supply for future generations. They are also all working with suppliers and certification bodies to tackle scope 3 emissions with a collective aim of producing sustainable, climate-friendly food for the nation. 

“All farms and agribusinesses are governed by rules on farm waste and manures, and they undergo frequent checks by the Environment Agency. Alongside this, through the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP’s) Courtauld 2030 Water Roadmap, over 60 stakeholders across the food and drink industry are working to protect water resources that are critical for food supply, nature and local communities. Retailers are committed to working with suppliers to play their part in a complex set of issues affecting water quality. This will require a truly collaborative approach with industry, government, and communities working closely together.” 



Courtauld 2030 Water Roadmap: 

  • The overarching goal of the Roadmap is for 50% of the UK's fresh food to be sourced from areas with sustainable water management by 2030, and there are specific actions for businesses that combine to deliver this. For retailers, this includes: 

  • Monitoring water use in our own operations 

  • Identifying water risk hotspots in our supply chains 

  • Supporting collective action projects in at least 3 strategically important sourcing areas 

  • Advocating for better water governance 

Through the roadmap, retailers support collective action projects in important sourcing locations (in the UK - East Anglia, Kent, Wye & Usk) 

Retailers frequently conduct risk mapping in their supply chains to identify priority categories/business areas for taking action on water – which include livestock 

WWF Basket: Retailers working with WWF to commit to halving the environmental impact of UK baskets by 2030 through taking action across our most material impact areas: climate, deforestation, diet, agriculture, marine, food waste and packaging. Within the WWF basket sits the target to reduce GHG emissions across all scopes in line with a 1.5-degree Science Based Target. Retailers working with WWF have also signed up to WRAP’s Water Roadmap Retailer Leadership Commitment. This commitment will see these retailers actively fund and drive progress on 4 key workstreams: 

  • Collective action (funding & participating in collective action projects in priority at-risk sourcing areas and encouraging others to do the same. Currently there are 8 collective action projects, increasing to 20 by 2030) 

  • Strengthening standards (across all fresh fruit, veg, meat, dairy and eggs) 

  • Mapping & measurement (driving consistent mapping and measurement of water risk) 

  • Advocacy for better water governance (working together to join calls on government and regulators in the UK and overseas) 


A WRAP spokesperson said:  

“WRAP’s Water Roadmap is designed to help UK food & drink businesses play their part in addressing water risk, whether that’s water scarcity or pollution. When signing up to the Roadmap, businesses agree to carry out water risk assessments, set water-related targets, report on progress and join collective action projects in their key sourcing areas. 

Collective action projects bring food & drink businesses together to address the most pressing water risks in a sourcing area. These issues are not limited to pollution, and might include flash flooding, water scarcity or poor water governance and regulation. WRAP currently has four collective action projects in the UK and four overseas. Each one is led and managed by local experts who develop a collective action plan to help restore the area to good ecological health. In total, our UK collective action projects are supported by 40 food & drink businesses including all major UK retailers. 

We encourage more businesses to sign up to the Water Roadmap and join collective action projects to address how they are impacting on our rivers and water resources.” 



Annex A: Further information about the large agribusinesses analysed in this report

2 Sisters Food
Group and

2 Sisters was founded in 1993 by Ranjit Singh Boparan (see Boparan Holdco Limited and Boparan Private Office Limited). It has a turnover of £1.4 billion, with more than half its business coming from producing chicken products for other brands, including supermarkets. The company operates 20 large processing facilities in the UK.


Arla is the UK's largest dairy company by milk pool. It is the largest supplier of butter, spreads and cheese in the country and the fifth largest dairy company in the world. Arla is a Danish-Swedish multinational corporation.


Avara foods is one of the UK’s largest food businesses. It was formed in 2018 when  Faccenda Foods (at the time one of the largest poultry suppliers in the UK and owned by Hillesden Investments) joined with American global food corporation Cargill. In 2002, the company was fined £75,000 for polluting the River Avon and is currently facing multi-million pound legal case over River Wye pollution.

Banham Poultry

Banham Poultry is a British poultry producer, based in Attleborough, Norfolk, with an annual turnover of £100 million, selling 650,000 chickens a week. In 2021, Banham Poultry was bought by Boparan Holdings (see below)

Bernard Matthews

Bernard Matthews operates throughout the east of England, including farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire producing nearly 7 million turkeys each year. It also has poultry production operations in Derby and Sunderland. The company has been owned by an investment company owned by Ranjit Singh Boparan since 2016 (see below).

Boparan Holdco Limited and Boparan Private Office Limited

BHcL and BPO are part of a large, complex and expanding network of companies which have Ranjit Singh Boparan, known as the ‘chicken king’, at their centre.

BHcL include the following companies either as subsidiaries or as companies over which they have significant control*. In some cases, this control is via intermediary companies:

•  Hook 2 Sisters Limited: Manages more than 170 farming operations.
2 Sisters Food Group Limited: Operates five slaughterhouse processing centres.

BPO include the following companies either as subsidiaries or as companies over which they have significant control. In some cases, this control is via intermediary companies:

Banham Poultry (2018) Limited: Operates one slaughterhouse processing centre and manages farming operations.
Bernard Matthews Foods Limited: Operates one slaughterhouse processing centre.
2 Agriculture Limited: Manages farming operations.
Amber Real Estate Investments (Agriculture) Limited: Operates one slaughterhouse processing centre.

Ranjit Singh Boparan is a shareholder in both BHcL and BPL, and thus has significant control over both according to Companies House. He is a majority shareholder in BHcL, and Ranjit Singh Boparan and his wife Baljinder Kaur Boparan own over 50% of shares in BPO between them.

*According to Companies House People of Significant Control records


Cranswick's core market is the UK but the company has a rapidly developing export business serving the EuropeanUS and South East Asian.


Karro process circa 50,000 pigs each week for delivery to the UK’s major supermarkets and wholesale food supplier markets. Karro Food Group headquarters’ are located in Malton, North Yorkshire.

Moy Park

Moy park is one of the UK’s top 15 food companies, Northern Ireland’s largest private sector business generating £1.83 billion in sales in 2022 and one of Europe’s largest poultry producers. Moy Park is a subsidiary of Pilgrim's Pride.

Pilgrim’s Pride

A division of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, Pilgrim’s Pride UK is part of the largest food company in the world, JBS, operating in more than 100 countries.


Definition of Intensive Livestock Units or ‘Factory Farms’

Sometimes referred to as ‘intensive production units’ (or, for chickens, ‘intensive poultry units’), intensive livestock units are the most industrialised and polluting agricultural operations. Animals are kept indoors for most or all their lives, in crowded conditions with little or no natural light. They are more akin to an industrial operation than a farm, with associated traffic generation, noxious processes, waste and effluent emissions, in addition to the wider issues of biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

For the purposes of planning policy, permitting requirements and pollution reporting, and for this report, intensive livestock units are defined as those which require planning permission and a license from the Environment Agency to operate. Developments that require planning permission house 40,000 poultry or 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows. In the UK, the number of these units increased by 26% between 2011 and 2017, from 1,332 to 1,674 respectively.

Intensive livestock production is distinct from more sustainable, higher welfare and nature-friendly agroecological farming, which is more resilient to climate change and vastly better for local communities and the planet, as well as reflecting the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee that UK diets need to change, towards healthier and less carbon-intensive foods.


Waste production rates

Estimates were drawn from several sources. Weekly slaughter figures were used to estimate data for Moy Park, Avara Foods, Banham and Hook2Sisters. Estimates were calculated by multiplying weekly slaughter figures to generate an annual slaughter figure. This number was divided by seven, as broiler sheds typically process seven cycles of broiler chickens annually. This gave us a figure that represented the average number of animals in each company’s supply chain at any one time. Figures for Noble Foods and Cranswick’s poultry operations were gathered from publicly disclosed information, rather than through extrapolation.

A similar method was used to estimate figures for Cranswick, Pilgrim's Pride and Karro’s pig operations. Weekly slaughter figures were gathered from published information and multiplied to generate an annual estimate of pig production. This figure was divided by two, as, according to the RSPCA, pig operations typically process two cycles of production pigs annually. Figures for sows for Cranswick and Karro were publicly available, either on their website or through reporting.

To estimate the number of Turkeys reared by Bernard Matthews at any one time, a similar method was used. Annual slaughter figures were derived from reporting and divided by approximately 2.5, based off BBC reporting that the average age of slaughter for a Turkey is around 20-weeks.

Arla’s dairy cow numbers are publicly reported.

To estimate excreta per day per farmed animal, government figures were used to calculate an average figure for excreta per day for each livestock type.

The excreta figure for the 10 largest UK cities was calculated by multiplying the median weight of faeces produced by a human by the combined populations of the 10 largest UK cities, with a separate source used for Glasgow.

Analysis of Public Policies

Sustain analysed the publicly available policies for the ten agribusinesses included in this report. A variety of publicly available reports and documents were analysed. Table 2 contains links to these sources. The businesses were contacted and invited to provide further publicly available information that may have been missed.

Responses can be found on the Sustain website

Zone of operation maps for Avara Foods, Moy Park, Cranswick, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Boparan (Boparan Holdco Limited and Boparan Private Office Limited).

Assumptions for the likely zones of operation are from publicly available data published by companies on the stated livestock travel times and/or distances between their farms and slaughterhouses (mainly taken from animal welfare reports). These reports are linked in the main report.

Where possible, the proportion of livestock sourced within certain distances or times was used to estimate likely areas of operation. Travel areas where a majority, more than 50%, of livestock is sourced are described as primary. The remaining travel areas, where a minority or below 50% of livestock is sourced, are described as secondary.

Travel distances and/or times were used to determine the radius of travel around each slaughterhouse. Distances disclosed by the company were used to map the radius of travel. Where distances were not disclosed by the company, a Department for Transport average rural road speed figure was used to estimate distances from published travel times. These figures were used to determine the radius of circles plotted around each slaughterhouse.

Data for Avara’s area of operation was taken from a publicly available report published by the company, linked above in the main report.

The links between meat companies and slaughterhouses and factory farms were found through Companies House records of People of Significant Control (PSC). According to Companies House, “a person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns or controls a company. They are sometimes called ‘beneficial owners’.”

Open Corporates and the Companies House API were used to search for the names of slaughterhouses and factory farm parent company names detailed in the Food Standards Agencies and DEFRA datasets listed below. Company matches were found for the majority of farms and slaughterhouses, and their company numbers recorded, with the exceptions usually being the names of family businesses or individuals.

The company numbers were searched using the Companies House API, to return the PSCs for each company. This search was then repeated for the PSCs until no further PSC matches were returned. This iterative searching allowed a branched and hierarchical network of PSCs to be revealed. The PSC networks for each of the mapped companies was checked manually through the Companies House website.

Data for the locations of and PSCs of slaughterhouses and intensive livestock units for maps 1-5 was gathered from the following sources:




Source Link




Approved Food Establishments in England and Wales

Filtered to slaughterhouses only



Approved Food Establishments in England and Wales

Filtered to slaughterhouses only


Northern Ireland

Approved Food Establishments in Northern Ireland

Filtered to slaughterhouses only



Approved Establishments Register

Filtered to slaughterhouses only

Intensive Farms


UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

Filtered to intensive farms only


Company Information


Open Corporates

Open Corporates UK data is derived from Companies House - Reconciled (searched) using OpenRefine

Company Information


Companies House

Searched using API



Rivers and Lakes:

Lehner, B., Grill G. (2013): Global river hydrography and network routing: baseline data and new approaches to study the world’s large river systems. Hydrological Processes, 27(15): 2171–2186. Data is available at

Messager, M.L., Lehner, B., Grill, G., Nedeva, I., Schmitt, O. (2016): Estimating the volume and age of water stored in global lakes using a geo-statistical approach. Nature Communications: 13603. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13603. Data is available at

Catchment information and names were sourced from the following government dataset:


Associations between agribusinesses and major retailers

This data was found using publicly available supply chain information, as follows:

Company name

Link to information source











Note: In Asda’s Tier 1 supplier list, 2 Sisters Food Group has been abbreviated to ‘2SFG’.

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