Supervalu is the latest Minnesota company to pressure its pork suppliers to stop using restrictive gestation crates for their pigs, according to the Associated Press.
The Eden-Prairie based company will require its pork suppliers to provide their plans to stop using gestation crates by 2017. This month, Supervalu said as a next step it will require an updated progress report from its suppliers on how they plan to eliminate the crates, according to an announcement on the company's website.
A growing number of hog farmers are moving toward group pens as industry giants, like Minnesota-based Target and Cargill, work to protect their brands from criticism by animal rights activists, the Associated Press reports. There are more than 60 food companies that have mandated an end to gestation crates in their supply chains, according to the Humane Society.
Farmers started to isolate sows in these individual stalls that are barely bigger than the pigs themselves because of violent behavior from the pigs, according to the New York Times. The switch back from gestation crates is not that simple, the Associated Press reports. There is much debate about pen designs and training pigs to use electronic feeding stalls takes time. It's also expensive – farmers are spending millions of dollars with no certainty yet that these changes are best for the animals, the Associated Press says.
In recent years, farmers have been under increasing scrutiny over conditions on their farms. Last year, video released from an animal rights group outlined the conditions on a farm in Pipestone.
Supervalu, which operates Cub Foods in the Twin Cities, has 3,400 stores, according to the Associated Press.