Carrefour announces pig welfare overhaul in Brazil

The Brazilian branch of Europe’s biggest retailer, Carrefour, has announced that all own-brand pork products will come from producers who commit to ending the surgical castration of male piglets by 2025.
calendar icon 13 January 2020
clock icon 4 minute read

Carrefour Brasil is one of the biggest supermarket chains in Brazil, a nation that is among the largest meat eaters in the world. The move will make them the first supermarket in Brazil to commit to such changes.

The move from Carrefour Brasil follows talks with International NGO, World Animal Protection. In November 2018, the charity presented Carrefour Brasil with a 92,000-signature petition, asking them to commit to high animal welfare standards. Since then, the charity has been providing technical support to the retailer.

The commitment also includes:

  • By December 2022, 100 percent of pregnant pigs will be transitioned to group gestation, allowing 28 days maximum in stalls.
  • By December 2022, pig’s ear notching will be abolished.
  • By December 2025, surgical castration will be abolished and immunocastration will be adopted.
  • On a permanent basis, teeth clipping/grinding will occur only in cases of extreme necessity, when aggressive behaviour between piglets is verified, and environmental enrichment will be provided for all production stages.

Around the world, some 1.2 billion pigs are raised for meat annually and many are subjected to painful castration. The procedure is designed to eliminate the risk that a small portion of meat carries an unsavoury taste associated with male hormones at puberty. However, it is often undertaken without anaesthetic and is acutely painful, resulting in extreme distress and fear, and can also lead to antibiotic overuse on farms.

sow and piglets standing in a pen with straw enrichment

Lucio Vicente, Head of Sustainability for Carrefour Brasil said:“The concern with animal welfare is a global trend and we are leading this process in Brazil, focusing on the adequacy of our suppliers, always aiming for the improvement of good animal management practices.”

Jacqueline Mills, Global head of farming for World Animal Protection said: “The painful mutilations of piglets to prop up factory farming is indefensible. This decision by Carrefour Brasil to lift pig welfare is encouraging and shows that change is possible.

“Wherever they are in the world pigs deserve a good life. Supermarkets have the power to lift animal welfare on farms and they must act now.

“We look forward to continuing to engage Carrefour Group on its approach to animal welfare across operations.”

World Animal Protection’s global Raise Pigs Right campaign is calling on the world’s supermarkets to end close confinement, barren environments and mutilations of pigs in their supply by introducing higher welfare sourcing policies for pork.

In 2019, World Animal Protection brought together a group of experts and stakeholders from across the swine industry to explore the issues surrounding ending painful piglet procedures. The group known as The 3Ts Alliance have called for an end to surgical castration, tail docking and teeth reduction of week-old piglets.

In December 2019, Ministers of Agriculture from across the European Union called for action to strengthen pig welfare laws and to end painful procedures on farms.

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