November 25, 2014
BRF, Brazil’s Largest Pig Producer, Announces Phase-out of Lifelong Confinement of Breeding Sows in Controversial Gestation Crates
BRF, Brazil’s largest pig producer and producers of iconic brands such as Sadia and Pedigão, announced today that it will phase out the lifelong confinement of breeding sows in gestation crates. Humane Society International, one of the world’s largest animal protection NGOs, had been encouraging BRF to make such a commitment and welcomes the company’s announcement as a positive step.
Carolina Galvani, HSI’s senior Farm Animals campaign manager in Brazil, said: "BRF deserves credit for being the first pig producer in South America to set a timeline to eliminate gestation crate confinement of breeding sows in its supply chain. This decision brings us closer to the day when the cruel confinement of pigs in gestation crates will be a bygone era for the entire pork industry. This represents a major push for all other pig producers and food companies in Brazil to follow suit and we encourage the company to strive to beat its deadline. Due to the duration and severity of their confinement, the suffering of breeding sows confined in gestation crates is among the worst of all factory-farmed animals.”
BRF’s new policy states that all its units will have to abandon the continuous confinement of breeding sows in gestation crates and transition to group housing systems by 2026. The company’s policy includes both company-owned and contracted units and has the potential to have a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands animals. BRF’s production chain encompasses over 300,000 sows.
In Brazil, and in other countries in Latin America, most breeding pigs in industrial production are confined in gestation crates for virtually their entire lives. These individual cages are barely larger than the animals’ bodies—so small that they can't even turn around or take more than a couple of steps forward or backward. As a result of this type of intensive confinement, crated sows suffer a number of welfare problems, including risk of urinary infections, weakened bones, overgrown hooves, poor social interaction, lameness and psychological disorders.
The world is already moving away from gestation crate confinement. In the European Union, a ban on the continuous use of gestation crates came into effect in 2013. In New Zealand, Australia and Canada, permanently housing sows in gestation crates will be phased out by 2015, 2017 and 2024, respectively. In the United States, nine states have passed legislation to restrict this practice. The South African pork industry is considering a restriction by 2020.
More than 60 of the largest food companies have announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their U.S. supply chains – such as McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Sodexo and Compass Group (GRSA in Brazil). HSI works with food companies in Brazil to adopt crate-free purchasing policies. Arcos Dorados, the largest McDonald’s franchisee in Latin America, recently took the lead by announcing that all of its pig suppliers in Latin America must present plans to promote group housing systems for breeding sows. Nestle followed suit by committing to phasing out crates in its global supply chain earlier this year.
HSI will follow BRF’s work throughout the transition process to crate-free group housing systems, and continue to work with pig producers and food companies on similar policies in Latin America.
Media contact: Vincenza Previte: 301-721-6440, firstname.lastname@example.org