Smithfield Foods Inc. reported this week, in the first section of its "2016 Sustainability Report," that it has reached 87% progress toward converting all pregnant sows to group housing systems on company-owned farms by the end of 2017. The Animal Care section is the first segment of many Smithfield will issue throughout the month of May.
"Customers and consumers are increasingly interested in the living conditions, care and respect of farm animals, and we are proud to proactively implement policies and practices that address their concerns," said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. "As just one example, more than 70 of the largest U.S. retailers and foodservice companies have announced commitments to source pork from producers utilizing group housing systems for pregnant sows. Today, Smithfield remains the only major pork producer to undertake such a conversion."
Smithfield also reported that it has made a worldwide pledge to convert company sow farms by 2022. Operations in Poland and Romania have already completed their conversions from gestation stalls to group housing systems, and the company’s joint ventures in Mexico are currently working toward the 2022 goal.
The report provides in-depth information about Smithfield's specific leadership positions in the area of animal care, noting that it was:
- The first to commit to providing group housing for pregnant sows on company-owned farms worldwide;
- The first and only company in the industry to report antibiotic usage (since 2007), and
- The first pork producer to develop and implement a comprehensive, systematic animal welfare management program.
In addition to information about these topics, the report also includes case studies about animal care research, a glossary of animal care industry terms, results of internal animal care audits and other information.
"As the world's largest hog producer, we have a unique position and responsibility to lead our industry in animal care," Smithfield Foods president and chief executive officer Kenneth Sullivan said. "Our bold steps — whether toward enhancing our reporting surrounding antibiotics or group housing systems for pregnant sows — not only create value for our business and the industry but, more importantly, embody our mission to produce good food the right way."
Smithfield will issue its annual sustainability report in segments organized by each pillar of its comprehensive program. The goal of the multi-phase release is to better engage a broad range of stakeholders by delivering information in a more accessible way. Following the Animal Care section, Smithfield will publish its Environment, Food Safety & Quality, Helping Communities and People segments in succession.