Companies struggling to meet gestation stall commitments

Missed deadlines and slow progress show complexity of animal welfare issue, especially as companies reel from COVID-19.


Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs 

Oct 08, 2020


Animal rights organization World Animal Protection (WAP) released a report this week that found that companies ranging from quick-service restaurants to hotel conglomerates are struggling to meet their commitments to phase out supplies of pork from animals raised in gestation stalls.


Between 2012 and 2015, numerous companies that sell pork, including Campbell’s, Kraft Heinz, Arby’s and Costco, set goals to help phase out the use of gestation stalls for pregnant sows and provide only gestation stall-free pork.


Several well-known brands, such as Marriott, Burger King and Einstein Noah Bagels, set deadlines for achieving their goals, but those deadlines have since passed, the organization said. The deadlines are fast approaching for many others, such as Wendy’s, Target, Quiznos and Dine Brands (Applebee’s and IHOP), but updates on their progress toward meeting their commitments -- or on their work to move their suppliers forward -- have not been forthcoming.


Of the 56 companies included in the report, WAP said nearly one-third (30%) no longer maintain language in their published animal welfare policies or responsibility reports affirming their commitment to gestation-stall-free pork. An additional 25% have vague language that does not require all of their suppliers to comply, the organization added.


Only 16 companies (29%) are currently reporting publicly that they are making progress toward or have achieved full implementation of their commitments.


While the organization said most of the companies may not be following through with their commitments, some have made progress.


The Cheesecake Factory openly acknowledged the complexity of this issue as it works toward its goal of “no use (zero days) of gestation crates/stalls.” Additionally, Hilton Hotels and Compass Group, following engagement with WAP in 2020, provided public updates for this report on the status of their lapsed commitments and reaffirmed that sourcing only gestation-stall free remains a priority.


Canada, which exports pork to the U.S., recently extended its deadline to phase out gestation crates nationwide by five years to 2029, indicating a similar struggle by companies to meet welfare commitments.


According to WAP, all of the companies included in the report will be required to source gestation stall-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 of legal action and a missed sales opportunity, given that the two states represent 17% of the size of the United States economy,” the organization said.


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