In 2012, Wendy’s announced a 10-year goal to transition our supply chain for pork (bacon and sausage used by Wendy’s restaurants in North America) away from individual sow gestation stalls (an individual enclosure) in favor of open pen/group housing for confirmed pregnant sows. We have re-affirmed our commitment and are on track to complete this transition for confirmed pregnant sows in our supply chain by the end of 2022.
Overview of the Wendy’s Gestation Stall Policy and How It Came to Be
First, we think it’s helpful to provide some background on pork production and the Wendy’s supply chain. Our specification calls for pork from market hogs, which are animals raised specifically for marketing pork products. We do not utilize meat from sows (or mother pigs raised for breeding). We do, however, extend our animal welfare practices to breeding sows in addition to market hogs, which are their offspring.
Starting in the early 2000s, some states began adopting new standards or requirements for the housing of pregnant sows, which required phasing out the use of individual gestation stalls that a sow would live in throughout its pregnancy. Several states are now in the process of transitioning to these new requirements for sows raised in the state and/or pork sold in the state regardless of where it was sourced from. Wendy’s also began studying the issue more closely, and in 2012 announced a goal to eliminate this practice in our supply chain, consistent with the State of Ohio’s recently announced guidance on eliminating gestation stalls.
Wendy’s corporate headquarters is located in Dublin, Ohio, and we have used the State of Ohio’s guidance to inform our own goal since announcing it in 2012. At that time, Ohio had clearly defined and published guidance for sow housing systems, which was created with input and agreement by the agriculture community, animal welfare advocates and government representatives. Ohio’s guidance was also outlined in a 2010 agreement that was signed by the Governor, multiple state agricultural producer groups and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In 2010-11, Ohio announced its new expectations for the housing of sows with a 15-year implementation timeline through 2025. We set our own goal ahead of this timeline, committing to transition to pork raised in open pen/group housing by the end of 2022.
A sow is first bred at around 32 weeks of age (and is called a gilt until it births its first litter), and consistent with Ohio’s guidance, there are two time periods in a breeding sow’s life when it may not be housed in an open pen/group housing:
- First, when the sow (or gilt) is being bred through artificial insemination, it may be housed in an individual pen until pregnancy is confirmed (a period that our suppliers report is typically 4-6 weeks). This is done to best ensure the embryos attach and remain intact, promoting a successful pregnancy. After pregnancy is confirmed, the sow, which is now a gestating sow, is returned to open pen/group housing for the duration of pregnancy (a period that our suppliers report is typically 10-12 weeks).
- Second, shortly before giving birth, the sow is moved to a farrowing stall where it gives birth and remains with its piglets until they are weaned from the sow (a period that our suppliers report is typically about 3 weeks). A farrowing stall is designed to keep the piglets warm and safe and prevent the sow from laying on her newborn piglets. Once the piglets are weaned, they typically become market hogs, although some become breeding sows or boars.
Key Progress and Transition Status
By the end of 2022, we expect that all of our bacon and sausage will come from pigs that have been kept in open pen/group housing, not in gestation stalls during pregnancy, consistent with the State of Ohio’s guidance and our previously announced commitment. As described above, the sows will be individually housed during breeding and housed with their piglets during farrowing.
To the extent other states adopt requirements that are stricter or more specific than the requirements in the State of Ohio, we intend to comply with those additional requirements to the extent applicable to our operations.
The humane treatment of animals is a core element of Wendy’s quality assurance and supply chain practices. Two aspects that underpin our work in this area are our longstanding relationships with industry experts, many of whom serve on the Wendy’s Animal Welfare Council, and our audit-based approach to animal welfare. We have recently enhanced these relationships and auditing practices further by bringing in new expertise in the areas of auditing, animal science, wellbeing and behavior, with specialties across our key protein categories. Looking ahead, we will leverage the council to strengthen the standards we apply to ourselves and our suppliers through the Animal Care Standards Program and our recently announced Responsible Sourcing goal. We look forward to continuing to share updates on our progress on our website, The Square Deal Blog and annual Corporate Responsibility report.
 This approach is consistent with Rule 901:12-8-02 promulgated under the Ohio Administrative Code, which provides that breeding/gestation stalls may be used post weaning for a period of time that seeks to maximize embryonic welfare and allows for the confirmation of pregnancy. Similarly, the 2010 agreement between Ohio’s agricultural community and HSUS also stated “It is understood that in all housing systems, sows may be housed in breeding/gestation stalls until they are confirmed pregnant.”