This morning Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, the second largest grocery store chain in North America announced it will eliminate the sale of all pork produced using gestation crates. Safeway’s commitment represents the first such commitment made by a mainstream retailer and with a reach of 1,694 stores it has the potential to have tremendous impacts on the pork industry and how it raises its mother pigs. The announcement has already received praise from The Humane Society of the United States and is getting media attention in mainstream and industry trade press, which is sure to create more consumer demand and more pressure for other grocers to follow suit.
Gestation crates are on the hot seat these days with other major retail companies that have made announcements to phase them out, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s. Notable about Safeway’s announcement is that it includes the sale of all pork (including grocery items that contain pork: think Lunchables, hot dogs, and Hot Pockets) from supply chain systems using gestation crates.
If you consider the suffering involved in confining animals in crates so small they can’t even turn around; can’t even engage in some of their most important natural behaviors, it’s obvious that it’s the right thing to do. Yet it takes a company truly committed to doing the right thing to make a bold move for this kind of change happen. Congratulations to Safeway for being a leader and may many of its competitors follow suit.