Kroger makes progress on commitment to crate-free pork supply
This time last year, Kroger—the largest grocery chain in the US—took a significant step to prioritize animal welfare.
The company announced a clear commitment to source 100 percent of its fresh pork from suppliers that do not cruelly confine pregnant pigs and set an implementation target of 2025.
World Animal Protection US immediately praised Kroger for standing against the suffering of mother pigs in intensive farming systems. The announcement came a few months after World Animal Protection called on the company to phase out the cages, known as “gestation crates” or sow stalls, in its pork supply.
One year later, Kroger is clearly dedicated to making good on its commitment. Company representatives spoke with World Animal Protection staff earlier this year to share progress and strategies. Kroger indicated its plans to survey its suppliers to better understand current practices and conditions for pigs.
As of June nearly half of Kroger’s pork suppliers have already transitioned away from stalls to group sow housing systems, according to the company’s sustainability report. This is a promising start. As the company works to transition its remaining suppliers, World Animal Protection will continue to provide robust research providing producers with the necessary tools to successfully shift to higher welfare, such as the global business case for group sow housing and enrichment.
Major retailers like Kroger play an important role in transforming the animal farming system. By setting strong standards for their suppliers and refusing to sell products created in inhumane, cruel, or unjust conditions they can move other companies in kinder directions.
World Animal Protection’s Raise Pigs Right campaign is calling on all major retailers to follow Kroger’s lead. According to research commissioned in 2017, 89 percent of shoppers believe retailers have a responsibility to ensure that pigs are treated well, and 61 percent would be more inclined to shop at a retailer that sources its pork from farms that treat pigs well. Further, 84 percent of customers want retailers to ensure pigs are not kept in cages.
Kroger has taken a strong position on the issue of pig welfare. A top competitor, Costco, has also made significant progress towards ensuring pigs in its supply chain are not cruelly confined. But other major stakeholders in the industry are lagging behind.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and one of the top grocery retailers in the US, currently has no enforceable, timebound policy committing to eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply. World Animal Protection continues to press the company to follow Kroger’s lead.
Kroger’s initiative is admirable and demonstrates a strong desire to follow through on its commitment. As Kroger continues to make progress and be transparent, it stands to draw customers away from key competitors, like Walmart, that have failed to act.