OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Sonic Corp. announced plans to phase out pork from producers who use gestation crates to confine pregnant sows by 2022.

"Although Sonic is a restaurant company, and as such, does not raise, handle, own, transport or process animals, Sonic strongly supports and believes that it is our obligation to ensure that each of our suppliers meets or exceeds established government regulations and recognized industry guidelines for the humane treatment and handling of farm production animals," the company said in a statement posted to its website.

At least 8 percent of Sonic’s pork comes from producers who have discontinued using gestation crates, the company said. The company’s five-year goal is to double the percentage of pork sourced from suppliers who don’t use crates, increasing 1.5 percent annually to a minimum of 16 percent by 2016.

"Sonic will favor suppliers that raise hogs in a gestation crate-free environment and that can provide audit and tracking reports for sourcing crate-free pork," the company said.

The Humane Society of the United States applauded the move.

“Sonic has consistently shown that it takes animal welfare seriously,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at The HSUS. “We look forward to working with the company to bring about a gestation crate-free future for its products.”

Sonic already has animal welfare standards in place for laying hens. The company switched to cage-free eggs for the fast-food chain’s breakfast items starting in 2010. At that time, Sonic said it would source at least 1 percent of its eggs from cage-free producers, gradually increasing 1 percent annually to achieve 5 percent cage-free eggs by 2015. The company also said it would ask suppliers to convert to controlled atmosphere stunning technology (CAS) when economically viable and favor suppliers who use CAS technology.

In 2012, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Cracker Barrel and Denny’s have announced that they will eliminate from their supply chains pork produced from sows housed in gestation crates.