The debate over using gestation crates to house livestock pigs has been raging for some time now, as animal welfare advocates urge businesses to move toward livestock supply chain methods that are more comfortable and sustainable. While several European countries have banned or are phasing out the use of gestation crates, the United States has been slower on the pick-up. But it’s a sign of real progress when major mainstream industry names start making changes. This week foodservice distributor Sysco has stepped up to the plate with the announcement that it is “committing to eliminating gestation crates from its pork supply chain.”
Sysco representatives sent a prepared statement to the Humane Society of the United States, one of the largest proponents of eliminating gestation crates in the pork industry. The statement reads:
“Sysco takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in the food supply chain seriously. We use science-based standards for animal welfare and work diligently with our suppliers to ensure humane treatment of animals. We also listen closely to our customers desires. Although there are many ways to house sows, several customers and suppliers have expressed their desire to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Therefore, Sysco is committed to working with its suppliers to create a gestation crate-free supply system, for the good of all. Like many of our customers, we're going to work with our pork suppliers to develop a timeline to achieve this goal.”
Sysco isn’t the first major business to announce a commitment to getting gestation crates out of its corporate equation: in February McDonald’s announced plans to phase out is gestation crate usage, and throughout the year everyone from consumer retail outlets Kroger and Safeway to corporate dining facilities like Compass Group to producers like Smithfield and Kraft Foods to chains like Wendy’s and Cracker Barrel have thrown their hats in the gestaton crate-free ring.
Sysco is just the latest in a wave of mainstream change, but no less important – as a wholesale distributor, it represents a different sector of the foodservice industry and indicates that progress is creeping throughout the industry. Considering the fact that Sysco is a $40 billion business that delivers to 400,000 customers, any change it makes has the potential to reach and influence an awful lot of people.
Now the only question is: when? We have reached out to the Humane Society for a timeline of when Sysco plans to enact its gestation ban elimination, and are still awaiting a reply.
[SOURCE: The Humane Society of United States]