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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Most Major Corporations Continue to Fall Short on Promises to End Confinement of Mother Pigs

August 26, 2021 GMT
World Animal Protection (PRNewsFoto/World Animal Protection)
World Animal Protection (PRNewsFoto/World Animal Protection)
World Animal Protection (PRNewsFoto/World Animal Protection)

NEW YORK, Aug. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report, Quit Stalling 2021, released today by World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare non-profit organization, documents an overall lack of progress on public pronouncements to end the cruel confinement of mother pigs in gestation crates—a metal pen confining them with just enough space to stand and take a few steps forward or back, but not enough to turn around or lay down comfortably.

This second Quit Stalling report shows that while most companies had a lack of progress, several continued to advance sow welfare goals amid challenges posed by the global pandemic and a US pork industry notoriously resistant to investing in animal welfare.

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Progress highlights include Burger King/Restaurant Brands International, which issued a more in-depth policy including stronger language that will disallow the use of gestation crates for the breeding phase of production (rather than just during pregnancy), beginning with a goal to achieve this in Europe by 2030. Bon Appetit Management Company worked diligently with its supplier to achieve a pork supply that never uses gestation crates for its California and Massachusetts markets this year, with a rollout plan for the rest of the US, despite substantial impacts of COVID to its business.

Unfortunately, the majority of companies continue to fall woefully behind.

“The progress made by leading companies, even amid unprecedented challenges, shows that the companies falling behind are likely not devoting the resources and time to carrying out their welfare commitments. They are instead, relying on customers and advocates to not look into their supply chains,” said Cameron Harsh, Interim Programs Director for World Animal Protection. “This ‘humanewashing’ and unwillingness to make good on public promises poses substantial reputational risk to companies.”

67% of companies that have made commitments to eliminate gestation crates either have policy language too weak to be meaningful or have removed policy language altogether. Walmart and Aldi, for example, rely on vague statements regarding expectations of housing systems used for sows that lack clarity or enforceability.

19% of the companies continue to post meaningful policies but are not reporting on progress towards their goals. Target, for example, has a long-standing commitment to eliminate gestation crates fully by 2022 but has never provided information to the public on whether it is on track to meet this.

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Several companies moved down in the rankings in 2021 due to the stricter assessment of policy language and greater weight for strong policies in this year’s report. Companies must clearly state that the policy requires the complete elimination of gestation crates for all sows in its supply chain with a firm timeline by which compliance would be enforced.

Multiple current policies state only that “open housing” or “group housing” must be used without clarifying this must be used at all times or they apply only to the ways sows are housed only “during pregnancy”. While this language was likely well intentioned, the industry has exploited loopholes, claiming to meet crate-free pork commitments despite housing sows in groups for only part of the time, confining them in crates for as long as 6-7 weeks at a time. Companies including McDonald’s and Noodles & Co. moved down in ranking for this reason.

“Many companies that are genuinely working to source pork from suppliers that never use gestation crates are being misled by several large producers,” said Harsh. “They are being told they are getting ‘crate-free’ pork when, in reality, it doesn’t meet their expectations.”

A few, including Panera Bread, Dine Brands, and Marriott, are working to prevent this misrepresentation in the way they are reporting progress by providing percentages of pork from suppliers that never use crates, that use group housing for the majority of time, and/or that use conventional crate systems.

All of the companies will be required to source gestation crate-free pork for their operations in California and Massachusetts when state laws go into effect in 2022. Failing to work with their suppliers to eliminate gestation crates puts the companies at risk given that the two states represent 17% of the size of the United States economy.

The Quit Stalling report assigns a color of Gold, Green, Yellow, Orange, Pink or Red to companies based on their having a meaningful, public-facing policy that requires suppliers to fully eliminate the use of gestation crates that covers all sows in the company’s supply chain by a clear deadline and their having publicly available information on their progress.

Meaningful commitment is public, reporting indicates 100% of pork purchasing complies with commitment

Chipotle; Whole Foods

Meaningful commitment is public, reporting indicates recent progress has been made

Bon Appetit Management Company; Burger King; The Cheesecake Factory; Panera Bread

Meaningful commitment is public, reporting is transparent about lack of recent progress

Campbell's; Hilton

Meaningful commitment is public, no reporting on recent progress of fully crate-free supplies

Ahold Delhaize; ConAgra; Darden; Dunkin'; Johnsonville; Kraft Heinz; Kroger; Metz Culinary Management; Sonic; Target; Wendy's

A commitment or statement is public that is not meaningful

Albertsons; Aldi; Aramark; Brinker International; CKE Restaurants; Compass; Costco; Denny's; Dine Brands; General Mills; Jack in the Box; Kellogg's; Marriott; McDonald's; Noodles & Company; Nestle; Papa John's; Raley's; Royal Caribbean; Sodexo; Starbucks; Subway; Sysco; Walmart

No public commitment or statement could be found

Arby's; Baja Fresh; Bob Evans; Bruegger's Bagels; Carnival; Cracker Barrel; Einstein Noah Bagels; Elior North America; Hillshire Brands; T.G.I. Friday's; Trader Joe's, UNFI; Quiznos; Wienerschnitzel; Wolfgang Puck

Quit Stalling 2021 enables customers and investors to hold companies accountable to their corporate responsibility promises. Those that fail to uphold their commitments are putting their business at risk.

Notes to the editor:

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SOURCE World Animal Protection