At Sprouts we believe that bettering animal welfare is a key part of good business. We recognize our responsibility to ensure the welfare of farm animals throughout our supply chain with respect to their physical, behavioral, and mental well-being. We are working to establish and implement meaningful animal welfare standards across our meat supply chain. As part of this process, aimed to improve animal welfare, we are engaging our suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other relevant stakeholders to ensure our policies and targets for continuous improvement are progressive, meaningful, and help drive the industry forward.
Chicken – Commitment to Welfare and Quality
We are taking a phased approach to improving broiler chicken welfare meaningfully and measurably. We will work collaboratively with our industry partners to meet the following targets for our meat department Sprouts Butcher Shop fresh chicken and one-pan meals, full-service case, and rotisserie chicken.
- Improve the environment for chickens including litter, lighting, and enrichments as per the Better Chicken Commitment standards. These changes are designed to encourage the natural behavior of chickens such as pecking, scratching, exploration, and play.
- Reduce stocking density to 6.0 lbs./sq. foot and prohibit broiler cages to allow chickens more room to move about. 17% of our supply already meets the 6.0 lbs./sq. foot goal.
- Process chickens in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling and instead utilizes a multi-step controlled-atmosphere processing system that induces an irreversible stun (CAS). This more humane technology is intended to provide a less stressful experience and contribute to improved animal welfare, better processing conditions, and higher quality meat. As of 2021, more than 17% of the chicken sold at Sprouts is processed through CAS facilities. We have set a target to increase this amount to more than 60% by 2024 and 100% by 2026.
We will verify each of these components with annual third-party auditing and will annually disclose our progress.
We also recognize the welfare issues experienced by conventional breeds of chickens raised for meat production and will monitor developments as research continues to evolve. We will continue to look for ways to adopt higher-welfare breeds in our supply chain.
Sprouts only sources whole pork products from suppliers that utilize open-pen or group-housed facilities.
All pork sold in our Meat department, including Sprouts Butcher Shop Pork, is raised with no antibiotics or beta agonists, ever. While we support the use of antibiotics on animals for therapeutic purposes only (i.e. disease treatment) as directed by a licensed veterinarian, pork that requires therapeutic use of antibiotics is removed from our supply chain and sold to conventional retailers.
Sprouts has been at the forefront of sourcing cage-free or better eggs for many years. Our Sprouts Brand eggs have been cage-free or better since 2016. As part of our ongoing commitment to improved animal welfare, as of December 2021, all shell and liquid eggs sold in Sprouts stores are now sourced from cage-free, organic, or free-range farms.
Sprouts encourages farmers to develop programs for breeding polled, or naturally hornless, cows to eliminate the need for dehorning. This approach has demonstrated success in the beef industry, and we support a similar approach in the dairy industry. We encourage all our dairy suppliers to support industry-wide efforts to promote the humane treatment of cattle, including responsible polled breeding practices. We discourage dehorning of cattle and request that our suppliers implement disbudding procedures following best practices such as providing analgesics and/or anesthetics. We also discourage routine tail docking and have asked our suppliers for timelines to phase out this practice.