Safeway, Inc. – the $44 billion supermarket chain with more than 1,600 locations nationwide – announced that it has begun the process of actively eliminating gestation crates from its pork supply chain, starting with its Eastern Division stores.
Gestation crates are cages used to confine breeding pigs so restrictively, the animals can’t even turn around. They have been criticized by veterinarians, animal protection advocates, traditional farmers and others. The predominant alternative is housing pregnant pigs in open groups, which provides much greater freedom of movement.
“In 2012, Safeway announced that it would begin formulating plans to convert its pork supply to group sow housing,” recaps Safeway in a new policy announced on the Company’s website.
Outlining what progress it has made since 2012, and will make in 2014, Safeway’s latest announcement continues:
Within the last several months the company has converted its entire Eastern Division fresh pork supply to product sourced from systems that utilize group sow housing, with plans to add another operating division in early 2014. Safeway will continue to shift its pork business to suppliers that have publicly announced plans for moving away from gestation stalls to group housing systems, and will ask these suppliers to provide us such plans by the end of 2014.
“Safeway’s latest moves to eliminate cruel gestation crates from its supply chain should come as no surprise to the pork industry,” said Matthew Prescott, food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States. “No one wants to see animals crammed into cages so small they can barely move an inch for their whole lives.”
Safeway is one of more than 60 food companies that have mandated an end to gestation crates in their supply chains. Others include McDonald’s, Costco and Oscar Mayer. Following this pressure, the National Pork Board recently reported that a majority of pork producers are in the process of switching to gestation crate-free housing methods. Meanwhile, many traditional farmers nationwide do not use gestation crates.
Nine U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban the continual gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs, while many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.
Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., remarked on the issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.”
About The Humane Society of the United States:
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We’re there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the Web at humanesociety.org .