Atlantic Premium Brands Ltd. announced, with the support of The Humane Society of the United States, plans to eliminate controversial pig “gestation crates” from its supply chain. The Northbrook, Ill.-based company is a national pork distributor, supplying major retail grocery chains throughout the United States, including Walmart, HEB, Kroger, Costco, Win Dixie, Sam’s Club, Safeway, and SUPERVALU; it is also the manufacturer of market-leading value-added brands including Blue Ribbon Smoked Sausage, Richard’s Cajun Favorites Smoked Sausage, Tejano Gold, Texas Traditions Premium Sausage, Carlton Sausage and numerous private label brands.
“Atlantic Premium takes animal welfare seriously, and wholeheartedly endorses the transition from gestation crates to group housing for pigs, which is the direction many of our pork suppliers are already moving in,” said Thomas M. Dalton, President and CEO of the Northbrook, Ill.-based company. “Like many of our customer partners and others in the food industry, we too are putting in place plans to have a gestation crate-free supply chain by 2017, which is the date by which many leading pork producers will be gestation crate-free.”
The similar announcements made recently by Costco, Kroger, Safeway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Oscar Mayer, and other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most pregnant pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The pigs are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization. This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, and consumers.
“We welcome Atlantic Premium’s work to improve animal welfare in its supply chain, and are glad to see it joining the list of major food companies working with their pork suppliers to end the confinement of pigs in gestation crates,” stated Matthew Prescott, food policy director for The HSUS. “At a time when so many retailers are rising to the public’s demand for improved treatment of pigs, Atlantic Premium’s commitment is both ethical, and a smart business move.”
Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of pigs.
Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Dr. Temple Grandin, is clear on this 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.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.
September 14, 2012 - The HSUS