Albert Heijn to Take Only Welfare-Friendly Pigs

NETHERLANDS - Dutch supermarket group Albert Heijn is to source all its pig meat from sustainable and welfare-friendly sources from 2011.
calendar icon 22 January 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The supermarket chain already has welfare-friendly products through its organic and free-range pig meat.

But from 2011, all the pig meat sold through the stores will havw to adhere to strict welfare standards that have been certified by the national Animal Protection organisation.

Last week, the director of the Animal Protection group, Frank Dales presented Albert Heijn with the 'De Gouden Kwispel' award for its animal welfare practices.

He said that it was an historic occasion for Albert Heijn to completely stop selling intensively reared pig meat.

General Manager of Albert Heijn, Sander van der Laan, who received the prize said: "Animal welfare is high on our agenda."

He added that the moves by Albert Heijn will mean that one million pigs a year will have better lives.

The supermarket chain has been working with its suppliers and the welfare organisations to produce a code of practice that includes giving the pigs more space in the pens, giving them distractions and also not using pigs that have been castrated.

Leading Dutch and European meat processor, VION, has been working closely with the supermarket and the farmers to introduce the code of practice.

Paul Jansen, Director Corporate Public Affairs Agri for VION told ThePigSite: "This is a challenge for the supply chain because of the specific demand.

"Farmers will have to change. It is challenging but it is feasible. The professionalism of the Dutch farmers will make it feasible.

"They will have to change their husbandry and the way they manage their farms."

Mr Jansen added that the new welfare practices being demanded will add costs, but he said that the farmers will have to be compensated for those extra costs.

He said that the scheme will mean that 20,000 pigs a week will be supplied to Albert Heijn under the new welfare standards.

"All the pig meat will have to be at least at this level of sustainability and welfare. It is a major step to raising welfare and sustainability."

He said that VION already supplies organic pig meat that has a three-star certification for welfare and sustainability and "happy pigs" reared outdoors with a two-star certification. The new concept gives a one star certification that will be the basic level of welfare standards and sustainability.

"By 2011, all supplies of pig meat to Albert Heijn will have at least one star," Mr Jansen said.

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