Pictured: A mother pig kept in a sow stall.

Report: Global food brands continuing to fall short on pig welfare commitments in the U.S.


World Animal Protection’s latest Quit Stalling report highlights the lack of progress among companies that committed to eliminate gestation crates despite looming deadlines.

The second Quit Stalling report, an assessment of U.S. companies’ progress towards meeting their long-standing commitments to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supply chains, shows most companies are failing to meet these commitments. Gestation crates are metal pens just slightly larger than the mother pigs confined within them, providing just enough space to stand and take a few steps forward or backward, but not enough to turn around or lay down comfortably.

A few companies, though, continued to advance their sow welfare goals amid significant challenges posed by both the global pandemic and resistance by large pork producers to invest in animal welfare.

The highlights:

  • Burger King issued a new in-depth policy this year, which includes stronger language clearly prohibiting the use of gestation crates during breeding and gestation, working to close a loophole that has been exploited by the industry. In Canada, Burger King has committed to phase out gestation crates by 2022.
  • Whole Foods and Chipotle ranked the highest, in Tier 1, as both companies prohibit gestation crates from being used by farms in their supply chain as a baseline standard for all of their stores, including in Canada.

The lowlights:

  • Of the US companies assessed that have a large presence in Canada, these companies have been flagged as laggards, receiving the second lowest ranking possible.
  • McDonald’s long-standing policy only applies to pigs during pregnancy, which can mean pigs being confined to crates for as long as 6 weeks for breeding until they are determined to be pregnant. In Canada, McDonald’s doesn’t have a policy on gestation crates or a commitment to phasing them out.
  • Starbucks has a commitment to end gestation crates in their North American supply chain, but the timeline of the language is too vague to uphold them to a date. To date, 25% of their pork products come from gestation-crate free pork.
  • Subway has ended the use of gestation crates in the UK and has committed to do so in the US. However, there are no details as to progress or timeline, and it’s not clear if this commitment applies to Canada.
  • Costco does have a gestation crate policy but it only applies to their in-house label in U.S. markets.

Overall, 67%—or 2 out of 3—companies fell into the bottom two tiers. Clearly, more progress is needed on this issue.

Twenty-four companies land in the second-lowest tier, having a public statement on sow housing is too weak or too vague.

Fifteen companies land in the bottom tier. All of these companies were previously celebrated for making commitments to end the use of gestation crates in their pork supply chains, but we were unable to find these policies in recent sourcing, responsibility, or media materials.

Quit Stalling Red Tier Companies

These companies are capitalizing on the goodwill from their public announcements to protect pigs but are clearly not devoting any resources to making good on their promises. This ‘humane-washing’ misleads customers and poses significant reputational risks to the companies and their investors.

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