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January 28, 2015

Major Retailer Launches Program to Help South African Small Farmers Improve Animal Welfare

Humane Society International and Pick ‘n Pay help small farmers access the growing market for higher welfare eggs and meat

Humane Society International

  • iStockphoto

Small, emerging farmers practicing free-range egg production and crate-free pork production in South Africa will now receive support from major retailer Pick ‘n Pay and Humane Society International. Pick ‘n Pay aims to increase the sourcing of their eggs and meat coming from higher welfare farms within the next 12 months.

To help meet this goal, while improving the economic well-being of rural communities and mainstreaming farm animal welfare, HSI is bringing South Africa’s small-scale farmers to the table. HSI has already held workshops in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg aimed at providing developing farmers with the information they need to improve animal welfare on their farms and access markets for higher welfare eggs and meat. The workshops were held in collaboration with Pick ‘n Pay, the South African Pork Producers Organization, the South African Poultry Association, and the Western & Eastern Cape and Gauteng Governments. 

Thamsanqa Zito, who represents the Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Reform’s Veterinary Public Health, thanked Pick ‘n Pay and HSI for “conducting a workshop that highlights the importance of humane handling of animals.”

Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, transformation director at Pick ‘n Pay, added "Pick ‘n Pay supports Humane Society International’s steps to introduce standards that would benefit the cause of animal welfare and protect all animals from all forms of cruelty. Pick ‘n Pay remains committed to enhancing progress on animal welfare standards in the industry and in South Africa." 

Mhlobo Mbane, representing the African Farmers Association of South Africa in the Eastern Cape province, said: “Animal production is changing and animal welfare is largely part of that change. We as developing farmers need to reposition ourselves and prioritise the well-being of our animals.”

“We are grateful to Pick ‘n Pay for partnering with Humane Society International on this important initiative,” said Tozie Zokufa, HSI’s program manager in Africa: “By showing that human welfare and animal welfare can go hand in hand, Pick ‘n Pay is setting an example for other food retailers around the globe.”

More than 45 million egg-laying hens and 110,000 sows are raised for food annually in South Africa. The majority of commercial egg laying hens are confined in barren battery cages, where the animals lack the space to walk or experience other important natural behaviors. While pork producers are increasingly moving to adopt higher welfare housing systems, approximately 50 percent of sows still spend the majority of their lives in sow stalls/gestation crates. Pick ‘n Pay is one of South Africa’s largest supermarket chains. This initiative has the potential to help small farmers while improving the quality of life for millions farm animals across the country.

Media contact: Tozie Zokufa, tzokufa@hsi.org, 074 974 9777

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