Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. announced Thursday plans to begin procuring "stall-free" pork from its suppliers.
There is "an evolution" in Americans' attitudes regarding higher levels of animal welfare in meat production, and "we recognize that gestation crates may not be the best method to meet" those levels of welfare, said Cracker Barrel Vice President for Strategic Sourcing Vance Fouraker. "(We) are committed to evolving sustainable alternatives."
The company said implementation of this procurement strategy will take time, noting that "most major pork producers" still use individual stalls to house gestating sows. The company also said it needs to review studies and meet with vendors "to work through all the details."
Cracker Barrel's statement was released jointly with the Humane Society of the United States, which supports the move. HSUS CEO and President Wayne Pacelle said, "Americans care about how farm animals are treated, and gestation-crate confinement is just out-of-step with those values."
Earlier research released by the National Pork Producer's Council indicated that 83% of sows are housed in stalls.
Phyllis Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Pork Producers, said eliminating stalls has no health or welfare benefits for sows, and the most significant factor in an animal's well-being is husbandry skills.
She said pens and stalls have both advantages and disadvantages, and there is no consensus on the best housing for gestating sows.