The company, which has net sales totally more than $13bn, said in a statement: “As part of our long-standing commitment to the humane treatment and handling of animals, ConAgra Foods supports the elimination of gestation stall housing for sows.
“We are asking our pork suppliers to present actionable plans by 2017, which address both the elimination of gestation stalls and the creation of traceability systems within the pork supply chain. We recognise that implementing a phase-out may be a long-term process, and could take up to 10 years .”
The decision has been welcomed by the country’s animal welfare groups. Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said: “We applaud ConAgra Foods tackling one of the most serious farm animal welfare problems. This policy makes it even clearer than ever that the cruel gestation crate confinement of pigs will come to an end.”
ConAgra joins a growing rank of US companies that have vowed to ban sow stalls, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Costco, Safeway and Korger. Processors Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to remove sow stalls from their facilities by 2017, while Cargill has already removed half of the sow stalls in its production facilities. Hillshire foods, which does not produce its own pork, also recently announced that it was looking for alternatives to gestation crates in its supply chain.
Nine US states have also passed laws to ban the use of sow stalls in pork production facilities.