Sysco joins the no-gestation-stalls list

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Joining the ranks of food companies that want pork suppliers to stop using gestation-sow stalls is Sysco, headquartered in Houston, Texas. With a 17.5 percent market share, Sysco is North America’s largest foodservice distributor.

Sysco officials sent a statement to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), saying, “Sysco takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in the food supply chain seriously. We use science-based standards for animal welfare and work diligently with our suppliers to ensure humane treatment of animals. We also listen closely to our customers desires. Although there are many ways to house sows, several customers and suppliers have expressed their desire to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Therefore, Sysco is committed to working with its suppliers to create a gestation crate-free supply system, for the good of all. Like many of our customers, we’re going to work with our pork suppliers to develop a timeline to achieve this goal.”

The company has not yet committed to a gestation-stall-free timeline. “As you can imagine, the Sysco supply system is quite complex,” says Matthew Prescott, HSUS food policy director. “Needless to say, Sysco distributes an enormous quantity of pork to restaurants and other food outlets of all sizes.”

Sysco has more than 180 locations in the United States, Canada and Ireland, and serves more than 400,000 customers worldwide with an estimated $40 billion in sales last year.

Restaurants make up 62 percent of Sysco’s customer base, but it also supplies food products to healthcare and educational facilities, sports venues, lodging establishments and other outlets that prepare meals away from home. According to the company’s website, it offers 400,000 products and has 40,000 Sysco branded products.

While Sysco has a long list of suppliers, those providing pork “that met or exceeded” the company's standards and were recognized in its “2012 Sysco Supplier Excellence Awards” program were: Gold level, Sara Lee (now Hillshire Brands); Silver, JBS; Bronze, Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill, Clemens Food Group and Sugardale.

Of the pork providers on that list, Smithfield has pledged to eliminate gestation stalls in its company-owned facilities by 2017. Cargill reportedly has 50 percent of its gestating sows out of stalls.

Sysco is focusing on and promoting its sustainability path—“we seek and implement ways to influence the entire foodservice lifecycle. From advocating low-impact farming methods to using hybrid diesel delivery trucks to providing local and organic foods and biodegradable takeout containers, we strive to do what’s right for our business, our community and our planet,” the company outlines on its website.

Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and chief executive officer, says Sysco’s decision is one more within the broader food retail sector, which is conveying “an emphatic ‘no confidence’ vote in the pork industry’s production practices.”

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Tennessee  |  July, 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM

Thank you for taking a common sense approach to a sitation that can be remedied. It's not rocket science to see these poor creatures and understand that their lives can be improved. I personally know someone who recently took a job in a sow production house, and she told me she had nightmares from the very first day. Although the salary was great, she quit. She stated "I have to be able to sleep at night, and this job shook me to my core." How's that for a first-hand experience? Again, thank you for doing the right thing.

Kansas  |  August, 02, 2012 at 11:28 AM

I'd like to consider the real dangers of not using gestational stalls. These are meant to protect the individual sows at a critical time. As some human mothers are put on bed rest, these animals need to be kept safe from other more aggressive sows and ensure they receive adequate food and water. I don't believe that this is cruel. I think it's interesting to hear from those who may not have taken into consideration the background be hind this 'awful' practice.

Portland Oregon  |  July, 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM

I wanted to commend your company on its decision to ban doing business with those pork suppliers who continue to use gestation stalls. It is my hope your company will continue to follow up the commitment with surprise inspections and the like to ensure suppliers are consistent and honest. ' Thanks again,

Dallas, Texas  |  July, 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Thank you so much for choosing to turn away from this horrible intense suffering of God's animals. I am a huntress, but am very opposed to suffering and intense confinement of animals. I applaud you for taking a stand for farming the right way! Proverbs 12:10 - "The righteous man regards the life of his animal ..."

Shirley Buchanan    
Ottawa, Ontario  |  July, 29, 2012 at 07:42 PM

Sysco is absoutely doing the right thing Sow gestation stalls shoud never have been used in the first place. I was reading in Time Magazine, July 23, 2012, that "Steve Ells serves pasture-raised pork burritos and antibiotic-free chicken tacos. It's paying off By Joel Stein." I'm sure there will be a lot more restaurants that will not accept pork from supplies that use gestation stalls, and then suppliers that continue to use these cruel stalls, will not have a market for their pork.

kansas  |  August, 04, 2012 at 03:36 PM

Nicolette - About "rocket science" DebraAnn and her un-identified, invisible "friend"... Whatever her age and background, her ability to reason and recognize logical arguments based on Actual Science (not paid for by PETA/HSUS/ALF) has been vaporized by continuous exposure to the animal rights/vegan high priesthood of Touchy Feely, Animals Are People Too propaganda. Don't waste your time explaining things to her and her ilk. Pseudo-Religious Zealots of this sort are willfully ignorant and are served best with ridicule and by heaping scorn and derision upon them for displaying their childish, emotion-driven pre-adolescent drivel in a public forum.

kansas  |  August, 04, 2012 at 03:48 PM

Nice to see so many Urban, Anti-Ag Trolls sharing their slobbering adulation for a business that has been bullied and black-mailed into kneeling before the Tyranny of a Screeching Minority. Considering the Massive Personal Experience and Knowledge possessed by these HSUS Trolls from Ottawa, Portland, Dallas & ?TN (all major centers of livestock production), I'm thinking the gutless lawyers of SYSCO will be sending them free veggie-burgers with Real Meat Flavors! I'm sure Pacelle will be sharing some of those 10$ of Million$ he's gained by defrauding suckers who thought HSUS supports animal shelters/rescue.

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