The Humane Society of the United States welcomes the announcement by Costco—the nation’s second-largest food retailer—that the chain is calling on its pork suppliers to eliminate their confinement of pigs in gestation crates by 2022.
“We want all of the hogs throughout our pork supply chain to be housed in groups… and expect that this transition should be accomplished no later than 2022,” wrote Doug Schutt, Costco’s executive vice president of merchandising in a letter sent to the company’s pork suppliers today. “All of us at Costco take animal welfare seriously and consider humane animal handling a business imperative.”
In the pork industry, the vast majority of mother pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies that prevent them from even turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, are re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.
Costco’s decision follows discussions with animal welfare group Mercy For Animals about undercover video taken by the organization at a gestation crate pig confinement facility supplying pork to Costco stores, as well as after discussions with The HSUS.
“The message is loud and clear: the country’s largest food retailers do not want to be selling pork from systems in which pigs were immobilized inside tiny cages for months on end,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of Farm Animal Protection for The HSUS. “Costco’s announcement should be yet another major wake-up call to the National Pork Producers Council that instead of defending archaic gestation crates, it should be working to eliminate them.”