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Smithfield Foods and Maple Leaf Foods Decide to Phase Out Cruel Gestation Crates

April 2007

In a victory for farmed animals, Smithfield Foods–the largest pig-flesh-producing company in the world–announced that it will phase out gestation crates in its U.S. operations within 10 years.

Gestation crates are metal-and-cement cages that mother pigs are confined to throughout their pregnancy; the cages are so small that the pigs can’t even turn around. This precedent-setting decision by Smithfield will significantly reduce the suffering of millions of pigs, and it immediately began to send ripples through the entire pig-flesh industry. Smithfield credits its major customers–McDonald’s, Burger King, Safeway, and others–for convincing the company to stop using gestation crates.

PETA has been working with these corporations for almost 10 years, urging them to demand that their pig-flesh suppliers stop using gestation crates. PETA has also been pushing Smithfield directly for years, attending its annual meetings as well as meeting with its executives. Just days after Smithfield’s decision, the largest pig-flesh-producing company in Canada, Maple Leaf Farms, announced that it will also phase out gestation crates. Maple Leaf cited Smithfield’s move as the primary reason for its decision.