The Times They Are a-Changin’ – Animal Welfare Value-Chain Improvements

A few weeks ago, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. parent company, CKE Restaurants announced it will begin purchasing eggs and pork from suppliers who do not keep animals in cages or crates, said spokesmen for Hardee’s and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Jeff Mochal, of Hardee’s said, “We take animal welfare concerns very seriously…When you meet with PETA they make a pretty good case. We want to stay consistent with where the industry is at now and where it’s heading.”

Prior to that, in mid-July, Wendy’s said 10% of its pork products come from hogs raised outside of gestation stalls and is planning to raise that figure to 20% by the end of 2008 and increase it over time by giving preference to pork and chicken suppliers who improve animal welfare standards. Wendy’s also will give purchasing preference to chicken suppliers who explore and test ‚Äòcontrolled atmosphere stunning’ (CAS) systems. Using the CAS method, chickens receive a mixture of gas and oxygen to render them unconscious before slaughtering.
In March of this year, Burger King raised the bar for animal welfare supply chain practices within the traditional fast food industry for egg-laying hens, “broiler” chickens, and breeding pigs. The conditions suffered by battery-caged hens who are crammed into cages; breeding pigs in crates where they cannot turn around; and chickens killed in mistake-ridden poultry slaughter methods are considered some of the worst routine abuses of farmed animals.
Since its beginning, Chipotle has set the standard for animal welfare practices in its value-chain. Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity” mission has Niman Ranch as their primary pork supplier, meeting the Animal Welfare Institute’s highest standard for farmed animals even as the chain grew from 1 store to 500. Chipotle also sources Bell and Evans chicken and Coleman beef who have higher animal welfare standards.
Farmed animals are offered no protection for their welfare under U.S. law. According to a 2003 Zogby poll, by a three to one margin, those polled say it is unacceptable that farmed animals are excluded from the US Animal Welfare Act so it is encouraging to see animal welfare being considered in food company value-chains.
With an MBA in Sustainable Management, Janice Neitzel is a principal of Sustainable Solutions Group facilitating sustainability strategy and innovative value-chain solutions while blogging on environmental, social, and animal-related business practices.(

Janice Neitzel is a principal of Sustainable Solutions Group with an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio School of Management. Ms. Neitzel negotiates with international corporations in the retail, grocery, and restaurant industries, creating measurable animal welfare improvements in product management and supply chain sourcing that increase product quality, reduce risk, and build brand premium while lessening the suffering of animals.