Gestation crates losing popularity in food supply chains
The practice of using gestation crates has been well-documented in the food industry, where pigs are often kept in small stalls for most of their lives, and typically unable to even turn around. According to Sustainable Food News, those producers who engage in the practice claim it keeps pregnant sows from fighting. However, in recent years many large food companies and retailers have decided to remove the use of gestation crates in their supply chains. Companies such as Oscar Mayer, McDonald's, Safeway, Costco, Target and Wendy's have vowed to eliminate suppliers who use the practice from their supply chains, as the crates have been shown to contribute to negative publicity and poorer animal health.
"Arby’s is committed to only working with suppliers who have policies in place to work towards the elimination of gestation crates on sow farms," read a statement on the company's website. "We believe there are more humane and sustainable alternatives to gestation crates and are actively collaborating with our suppliers to implement solutions that align with our company’s commitment to animal welfare.
New policies put in place
The practice of keeping pigs in gestation crates has already been outlawed in some states, requiring producers in those regions to find new ways to keep their sows from fighting.
Arby's has been applauded by animal rights activists, veterinarians, consumers and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for the move, and may find the move to other procurement practices to be quite a smart public relations move, even if it doesn't allow the chain to enjoy the cost savings it may have when purchasing pork from producers who used gestation crates.
"The Humane Society of the United States applauds Arby's for closing its doors to pork producers that aren't eliminating gestation crates," stated Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for the HSUS. "If you're a pork producer without plans to move away from gestation crates, you've nearly run out of buyers willing to purchase your products. It’s time to change."