The Kroger Co. announced this morning
that it has started to inform its pork suppliers that it believes "a
gestation crate-free environment" is a more humane means of housing
pregnant sows than individual stalls and that pork producers should work
toward a transition to stall-free housing for pregnant sows.
company said it encourages its suppliers "to accelerate" this
transition, which it noted already is underway. The company acknowledged
that this transition "may take many years."
Kroger said it has long pursued
science-based standards for animal welfare, and in recent months, the
company has sought the advice of animal welfare experts and other
professionals regarding the use of gestation stalls "and has concluded
that there are many ways to humanely house sows" but that stall-free is
Kroger is the second-largest supermarket system in the U.S., after Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) immediately applauded the announcement.
Kroger has taken "a very important step
for animal welfare in declaring that the pork industry must find an exit
strategy for its use of gestation creates," said HSUS chief executive
officer and president Wayne Pacelle. Americans believe that all animals
deserve humane treatment and that "it's wrong for producers to
immobilize pigs in small crates for months and even years," he said.
In recent weeks, a number of major
restaurants and Safeway have announced expectations and schedules for
pork suppliers to provide them with stall-free pork, and Kroger's
announcement indicates its preparation to join that list.
Kroger, headquartered in Cincinnati,
Ohio, operates 2,435 stores in 31 states under two dozen banners. The
company also operates 791 convenience stores and 39 food processing
It had 2011 sales that totaled $90.4 billion.
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