PORK-CENTRIC restaurant system and sausage maker Bob Evans Farms Inc. has reported that, by 2025, it will require all of its suppliers "to source animals" from housing systems that provide animals with "ample opportunity for comfort and movement" and provide workplace safety.
This will be best achieved by transitioning its pork supply from production in which sows are housed in conventional gestation stalls to housing that provides the animals with greater freedom of movement, the company said.
Bob Evans said it reached its decision in consultation with members of its own animal welfare committee, which includes outside experts in animal behavior and well-being. The company said it also held "extensive discussions" with farmers, industry trade groups, animal rights advocates and customers.
Bob Evans said it additionally considered academic research and scientific literature regarding the advantages and disadvantages of gestation stalls and group housing for pregnant sows.
The company said its "key learning" is that the single most critical factor in providing animal welfare is not the housing system but, rather, the animal husbandry of those who care for the sows. Nevertheless, the company said it will move forward with adopting its new position.
Bob Evans, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, operates 565 full-service restaurants under the Bob Evans name, mostly in the mid-Atlantic, midwestern and southeastern U.S. It also is a manufacturer of pork sausage and refrigerated side dishes. It reported fiscal 2012 sales of $1.654 billion.