Costco orders pork suppliers to drop tight sow pens
July 31, 2012
Issaquah-based Costco asked pork suppliers to phase out small pens for pregnant sows July 18 — a change hailed by animal welfare groups.
The small pens, called gestation stalls, have long rankled the Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals and other animal welfare organizations. Critics call the gestation stalls inhumane because the sows cannot turn around or, in some cases, turn over in the tight space.
In a letter addressed to Costco pork suppliers, Doug Schutt, executive vice president of merchandising, called for the change.
“Here at Costco we are encouraging you to make this transition: We want all of the hogs throughout our pork supply chain to be housed in groups with access to safety zones and expect that this transition should be accomplished no later than 2022,” the letter states.
Costco is the No. 2 retailer in the United States and the largest employer in Issaquah.
Chicago-based Mercy for Animals later posted the letter online, on the same day Kmart announced a plan to eliminate gestation crates from pork suppliers, too. Mercy for Animals Executive Director Nathan Runkle hailed the actions.