Food Industry Leaders Turn to More Humane Supply Chains

Food Industry Leaders Turn to More Humane Supply Chains

Food Industry Leaders Turn to More Humane Supply Chains
Image via Flickr by Tim Geers

In the quest for a more sustainable supply chain, many companies are looking at their suppliers’ practices and making necessary changes. Animal welfare is one of the biggest concerns for the food industry.

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Gestation Crates and Pork Suppliers

For years, pig breeders have used gestation crates, or pig stalls, to confine pregnant sows. Recently, the practice has come under scrutiny by animal welfare advocates as well as the media. About 70% of the breeding sows raised in the US spend most of their lives in a crate that barely accommodates their body size. Animal welfare scientist, Temple Grandin, Ph.D. says, “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. We’ve got to treat animals right.”

Buyers Demand Better

“If you’re a pork producer without plans to move away from gestation crates, you’ve nearly run out of buyers willing to purchase your products. It’s time to change,” says Josh Balk with the Humane Society of the United States. Arby’s is the most recent company to prove the truth of that statement. The fast food giant announced plans to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chain in December, following similar decisions by several other corporations including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.

“We believe there are more humane and sustainable alternatives to gestation crates and are actively collaborating with our suppliers to implement solutions that align with our company’s commitment to animal welfare,” Arby’s asserts in a statement on their corporate website. Several pork suppliers are already making plans to improve their practices. Cargill has eliminated half of their crates, while Smithfield and Hormel both plan to phase out the practice completely over the next 4 years. Nine states have passed legislation that bans the use of gestation crates in pig breeding.

Sustainable supply chains are the future of successful companies. Suppliers and their buyers will have to continue to work together to make that happen.[/show_to]

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