WASHINGTON and PLEASANTON, Calif. – Safeway Inc., the second-largest grocery chain in the US, announced plans to increase pork purchases from producers who have committed to phasing out gestation crates for breeding sows.

"It is Safeway's goal to have a gestation stall-free supply chain," said Brian Dowling, Safeway vice president of public affairs. "With that in mind, the company is formulating plans to determine how it can reach that goal."

The Humane Society of the United States applauded the move.

"Safeway's decision to move away from gestation crates is welcome and encouraging news," said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the HSUS. "Given the scope and quantity of pork products sold by Safeway, this announcement is an important step in addressing animal welfare in the company's supply chain."

Safeway said the company has substantially increased the quantity of pork the chain buys from producers who have committed to moving away from gestation crates.

"Our company supports the efforts of our suppliers who have committed to reductions in their use of gestation stalls," Dowling said.