The national supermarket chain Safeway has announced that it is working to formulate a plan to sell pork only from suppliers that do not use gestation crates.
There is not yet a specific timeline for when this plan goes into effect, but it will happen "in a period of years," Safeway spokesperson Brian Dowling explained in an email to HuffPost Food. Although several fast food chains have given a timeline to their decision to eliminate gestation crates, Dowling says the the process will take some time. "A number of large vendors have been very public about their intentions to move in this direction and we are encouraged by that," he says.
The decision reflects a growing shift among major food companies.
"Safeway's decision to move away from gestation crates is welcome and encouraging news," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, in a press release. "Given the scope and quantity of pork products sold by Safeway, this announcement is an important step in addressing animal welfare in the company's supply chain."
Nathan Runkle, the executive director of the animal rights group Mercy For Animals is "cautiously optimistic" about Safeway's announcement. "We hope this announcement is more than PR hogwash and that Safeway acts quickly to remove these cruel confinement systems from its supply chain to spare millions of animals horrific misery and suffering," he says in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. Runkle ends his statement on an encouraging note, though. "Prominent grocery chains like Walmart, Kroger and Costco should quickly follow Safeway's lead in taking a stance against inherently cruel gestation crates."
Safeway's decision comes after a slew of other food companies have announced similar plans. Two weeks ago, Burger King announced pledged to be the first major U.S. fast food chain to use both cage-free pork and eggs by 2017. Check out the slideshow below to learn which other Big Food players have announced plans to go gestation crate-free.
In September, Dunkin' Donuts announced that it plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/dunkin-donuts-cage-free-eggs-gestation_n_1916260.html?1348678200" target="_hplink">eliminate all gestation crates</a>, but has not set a timeline. It is also moving toward cage-free eggs.
At the end of May, the country's leading hamburger chain by sales announced a plan to eliminate its suppliers' use of gestation crates by 2022.
On May 15, Denny's announced it would work with its suppliers to end the use of gestation crates for its pork products.
In May, Safeway -- the country's second-largest grocery chain -- said it plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120507/us-safeway-humane-pork/" target="_hplink">stop buying meat</a> from suppliers that use gestation crates.
On April 23, Burger King pledged to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/burger-king-gestation-crates_n_1451703.html" target="_hplink">eliminate the use of pork from pigs raised in crates by 2017</a>. The company also pledged to offer entirely cage-free eggs by 2017.
In March, Wendy's announced it would work with its U.S. and Canadian pork suppliers to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/wendys-animal-treatment_n_1375724.html" target="_hplink">phase out the use of gestation crates</a>.
Also in March, Compass Group announced it would <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/going_green/2012/03/compass-group-will-end-contracts-with.html" target="_hplink">phase out the use of meat from pigs raised in gestation crates</a> by 2017. Compass Group runs dining operations at about 10,000 companies, hospitals, senior living centers, schools, colleges and universities, making it the largest food service company in the world.
McDonald's also announced in February its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/mcdonalds-gestation-crates_n_1275942.html" target="_hplink">plan to stop using meat from pig raised in the crates</a> by 2017.
Hormel, the maker of products like Spam, announced in February it <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/02/hormel-gestation-crates_n_1249707.html" target="_hplink">pledges to eliminate most gestation crates by 2017</a>.
Also in February, Bon Appetit announced it would <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-bon-appetit-gestation-crates-20120220,0,7675759.story" target="_hplink">stop buying pork from providers who use gestation cates</a>. Bon Appetit runs more than 400 cafes across 31 states.
Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, announced late last year it would <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/smithfield-gestation-crates_n_1136567.html" target="_hplink">end its practice of using gestation crates</a> for pregnant hogs by 2017.
In early July, Oscar Mayer pledged to source its pork from suppliers that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/oscar-mayer-gestation-crates_n_1658670.html" target="_hplink">no longer use gestation crates</a>. Oscar Mayer is owned by Kraft Foods.
On July 23, Sysco <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/sysco-gestation-crates_n_1698971.html?1343152570" target="_hplink">pledged to work with its producers to stop the use of gestation crates</a>. Sysco is the world's largest broadline food distributor.