SMITHFIELD, Va. – As part of its commitment to eliminating the use of gestation crates in its supply chain, Smithfield Foods Inc. announced that 87 percent of pregnant sows on its company-owned farms have converted to group housing systems. In a Jan. 4 statement, the company said that its 2007 announcement committing to convert all of its farms to group housing by 2017 is on schedule and “today, nearly nine out of every 10 of our pregnant sows are living in group housing,” and the transition has come at a cost of “several hundred million dollars.”

Stewart Leeth, Smithfield’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of regulatory affairs, said the transition is nearly complete and the company is proud of the progress.

“At each farm along the way, we've made changes that have benefited both our animals while positively impacting the efficiency and environmental sustainability of our farms,” he said.

The investment the company has made includes the costs for construction work, new equipment and implementing new feeding and watering systems. Smithfield has also informed its contract growers that by 2022, it expects them to also convert to group housing and has offered to assist them with the transition based on what has been learned at the company-owned farms. The 2022 deadline also applies to the company-owned farms based in Mexico. Its facilities in Poland and Romania have already completed the transition.   

Kenneth Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield, said achievements toward meeting the ambitious goal is a point of pride for the company.

"It demonstrates our continued commitment to the care and well-being of our animals, our willingness and ability to lead the industry in this arena, and the far-reaching impact these pledges have on creating value for our business,” Sullivan said, “particularly our hog production operations."