Hogs in a Smithfield gestation facility. Photo via www.SmithfieldCommitments.com
McDonald’s USA announced yesterday that it has worked with its suppliers to develop a 10-year plan to phase out the use of gestation stalls in its supply of pork from U.S. producers.
The goal of the plan is to source all pork for U.S. sales by the end of 2022 from producers who are using group housing.
"We value our relationship with our suppliers and our shared commitment to animal welfare," said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain Management. "Our approach seeks to build on the work already in place, and we are also sensitive to the needs of the smaller, independent pork producers in the phasing out of gestation stalls."
While McDonald’s says it has worked with producers, suppliers and animal welfare experts to reach this point, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) announced it is "disappointed"
with the food giant’s decision.
"While we’re disappointed with its decision, McDonald’s – unlike other food companies – did the research to find out how complex this issue is," said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. "At least it discussed its plans with the pork industry and has concerns with the available pork supply from stall-free operations and with the transition away from stalls that would be required of producers."
Dr. Temple Grandin isn’t so disappointed. She says that the choice to end use of gestation stalls after a 10-year transition period is "really good forward thinking" on the part of McDonald’s. The animal welfare expert commends the company for the decision. "The change is complex and will require additional resources. The 10-year timeline that McDonald’s has outlined is necessary to research and identify better housing alternatives and ensure proper training of employees," she says.
Were gestation stalls already a thing of the past? Smithfield, one of McDonald's largest pork suppliers, says that in 2011 30% of their sows were already transitioned to group housing. More recently, the company tweeted
, "We're headed out to tour one of our recently converted sow farms tomorrow! We're excited to see new group housing facilities in action."
McDonald’s says it will continue to work closely with its supplier network to refine and implement the plan.