Vincent Breton, president of La Viande duBreton, says the niche market for humanely raised pork is sustainable and profitable.
Vincent Breton, president of Du Breton, says the niche market for humanely raised pork is sustainable and profitable.

RIVIÈRE-DU-LOUP, Quebec – Privately owned Canadian pork producer DuBreton announced plans to increase its production of crate-free pigs by an additional 300,000 animals by 2018. DuBreton expects to invest C$30 million ($22.45 million) in the initiative.

To achieve its goal, DuBreton will work with 300 family farms in Ontario and Quebec Canada to adopt the company’s Certified Humane Raised and Handled pork production practices. The company said family farms will play a significant role in sustaining this type of pork production. As a niche market, producers are struggling to keep pace with growing consumer demand for meat products sourced from humanely raised animals. Additionally, humanely raised and organic meats command premium prices.

“DuBreton has been at the forefront of the humanely raised movement since the late 1990s, and this announcement simply solidifies and expands our commitment,” said Vincent Breton third-generation president of DuBreton. “Compared to commodity or traditional farming practices, it costs us 50 percent more to raise Certified Humane pork and more than double to raise an organic pig.

“The result is the highest quality pork possible, and as this translates into only a slight increase at retail, we believe it is well worth the cost to preserve the dignity and respect of the animals in our care,” he added. “Obviously, consumers agree as demand is outpacing supply in many markets where we trade.”

Major Canadian pork producers already have started converting to group housing systems. In 2013, Olymel LP announced plans to phase out gestation crates from its pork production operations by 2022. Maple Leaf Foods plans to convert its sow barns to open housing by 2017.

The DuBreton Organic and Rustic Farm Pork product lines are Certified Humane, antibiotic-free and hormone-free. The pigs are raised in group housing systems, and its organic pork is sourced from pigs that are fed a certified organic, GMO-free diet and guaranteed outdoor access. The company includes as its customers Whole Foods, Chipotle Mexican Grill and major Canadian retailers.