Salisbury-based Food Lion said Tuesday that it wants reports from its pork suppliers on efforts to eliminate gestation crates, small boxes that enclose breeding sows and restrict their movements.
The announcement from Food Lion’s parent company, Delhaize America, underscored how the crates have become less popular.
“Delhaize America is encouraging supplier efforts to eliminate gestation stall housing for sows and move to open pen solutions,” said the supermarket operator. “The company will continue to work with our suppliers to find solutions that are more sustainable and humane and that deliver our expectations for food safety and traceability.”
The company wants its suppliers to report on their progress later this year. Food Lion operates about 1,100 supermarkets, concentrated in the southeast U.S.
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Animal welfare advocates praised the move.
“We’re pleased that Delhaize has made their opposition to gestation crates clear,” said Josh Balk, the Humane Society’s director of food policy, in a statement. “There’s simply no future for pork producers who want to continue locking pigs in these inhumane, outdated cages.”