Speaking about the future of animal agriculture at the International Meat Congress in Mexico City, Humane Society International stressed that farm animal welfare has become an important issue for food companies, consumer groups and governments across the world, including in Mexico.
Sabina Garcia, corporate policy and program director for Humane Society International Farm Animals, presented on the movement away from the lifelong confinement of farm animals in restrictive cages and crates, stating:
“In response to consumer demand, food companies in Mexico and around the globe are adopting cage-free egg and crate-free pork purchasing policies. Companies understand that animal welfare is an important part of staying competitive in a global market that increasingly values higher welfare products.”
In Mexico, breeding sows in the pork industry are frequently confined for practically their entire lives in individual gestation crates, so small that the animals cannot even turn around. Most egg-laying hens in Mexico are confined in wire battery cages so small the animals cannot even fully stretch their wings.
Global financial institutions have highlighted the importance of animal welfare for a company’s brand image and competitiveness. In a 2008 food industry report, Citigroup warned of “…a number of potential headline risks that could tarnish the image of restaurant companies, including concerns over animal cruelty…” The International Finance Organization stated, “In the case of animal welfare, failure to keep pace with changing consumer expectations and market opportunities could put companies and their investors at a competitive disadvantage.”
Over the past few years, HSI has worked with food corporations in Mexico on the adoption of animal welfare policies, specifically on their transition to higher welfare products like cage-free eggs and crate-free pork. These companies include Burger King, Arcos Dorados (McDonald’s Latin America), Grupo Toks and Sushi Itto, which have committed to transitioning to 100 percent crate-free pork and cage-free eggs in Mexico. Grupo Bimbo, Unilever, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Alsea and numerous other food companies have adopted cage-free egg policies in the country. The world and Latin America’s largest pork producers- including Smithfield Foods, JBS, BRF, Maple Leaf, Cargill and Hormel, are all transitioning to crate-free housing systems for breeding sows.
U.S.: Raul Arce-Contreras, firstname.lastname@example.org, 301.721.6440
Mexico:Laura Bravo, email@example.com