Everyone is familiar with Target stores’ iconic bulls-eye trademark, now the retailer is making its mark on the gestation-sow stall issue. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., the nation’s second-largest discount retailer wants its pork suppliers to eliminate the gestation-stall housing system from its supply chain by 2022.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the announcement, complementing Target “for wielding its immense purchasing power to make a huge improvement in animal welfare by eliminating controversial pig gestation crates from its pork supply chain.”
Target is the nation’s fourth-largest food retailer. For its part, Target stated on its “Responsible Sourcing” website, stated: “Target is committed to working with our vendors on the elimination of sow gestation crates by 2022. Target recognizes this task will involve a large undertaking from our pork product vendors and we will partner closely with our vendors as they work through this transition.”
Exactly what that means or will entail has not been clarified.
“Target’s got gestation crates in its crosshairs and should be commended for working to improve conditions for pigs in its supply chain,” stated Matthew Prescott, HSUS food policy director. “Americans simply don’t support the lifelong confinement of animals in cages so small they can’t even turn around, and it’s both an ethical decision and good business move for Target to recognize that.”
This brings the tally to 36 food-related companies to commit to eliminating gestation-sow stalls from their supply chains. Interestingly, Wal-Mart—the nation’s No. 1 discount retailer and Target’s most direct and vehement competitor has stayed mum on the subject of gestation-sow stalls. That’s not without trying, animal activists attempted to pressure Wal-Mart into similar action earlier this year.
Target has nearly 1,800 locations in 49 states, and in 2011 began expanding into Canada. Its 2012 revenue is reported at $69.87 billion, with net income for the year at $2.93 billion. The retailer currently employees an estimated 365,000 workers. The company reports Target’s median shopper is 41 years old, the youngest of all of its major competitors. The median household income of Target's customer base is roughly $63,000 annually. An estimated 76 percent of Target customers are female; about 80 percent of its customer base has attended college, with 48 percent having completed college.