The ASPCA has launched the ASPCA Supermarket Scorecard, the only consumer resource that ranks US grocery retailers on multiple farm animal welfare issues. The inaugural report tracks top supermarkets’ commitment to eliminating farm animal confinement and other intensive practices from their supply chains while empowering consumers to shop from retailers aligned with their values. Specifically, the 2023 report tracks commitments and progress in three key areas including cage-free eggs, gestation crate-free pork and alignment with the Better Chicken Commitment—a set of standards at the heart of a global campaign to improve the welfare of billions of chickens raised for meat.
A recent national survey shows that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of the public want transparency about supermarkets’ progress toward stocking more humane products, with most willing to switch supermarkets if they learned that theirs did not offer alternatives to factory-farmed food.
The ASPCA’s report found that while many major grocery stores have posted public policies to eliminate some forms of intensive confinement in their supply chains, many retailers have stalled in fulfilling their promises and others have not yet acknowledged the widespread problem of farm animal cruelty in the food system. Despite the growing public rejection of such confinement and other intensive practices, most eggs, chicken and pork products on American supermarket shelves still come from factory farms. These industrial facilities raise large numbers of farm animals, such as pigs, chickens or cows, under inhumane conditions where their movements are extremely inhibited.
“Supermarkets have immense influence over what we eat and how animals are treated. Consumers overwhelmingly reject cruelty to farm animals and want to know where their supermarket stands on these basic but critical welfare issues,” said Nancy Roulston, senior director of corporate policy and animal scientist, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare. “The ASPCA is working with some of the largest supermarket chains to help them swiftly adopt and progress on strong welfare policies. It’s time for retailers of all kinds to address unacceptable practices in their supply chains—to protect animals, support farmers using higher-welfare practices and align their brands with the compassionate food system consumers demand.”
“At Sprouts, improving animal welfare is an ongoing process that is a fundamental part of our responsible sourcing efforts. It is important to our customers and is the right thing to do,” said Brandon Lombardi, chief sustainability officer, Sprouts Farmers Market. “We are proud to be leading in transparency as we continue to make progress on our animal welfare commitments.”
“Since we first opened our doors more than 40 years ago, we’ve continued to raise the bar on our quality standards, including our commitment to animal welfare as part of our higher purpose to nourish people and the planet,” said Karen Christensen, SVP Merchandising for Perishables and Quality Standards, Whole Foods Market. “We’re proud to be recognized by the ASPCA for our commitment to continuous improvement in agriculture and animal welfare and providing the transparency customers want in understanding how animals are raised.”
In addition to corporate pledges, many states have passed laws that ban intensive confinement of farm animals and in some cases, block the sale of items from animals raised in this way, which affects most major retailers. Despite efforts by Big Ag interest groups to undo state confinement bans, including through the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, surveys continue to show that the public wants higher-welfare products.
The ASPCA is calling for more governmental funding to support welfare-centered farmers and ranchers who can meet this growing demand and future iterations of this scorecard will evaluate supermarkets’ assortment of products that are not just confinement-free but also welfare-certified.
The ASPCA Supermarket Scorecard is part of the ASPCA’s Shop with Your Heart program, launched in 2016 to inform consumers, food businesses and lawmakers about more humane options. To learn more about the ASPCA’s work with companies to help create more humane policies for farm animals and find interactive resources to bring your store on board, visit ASPCA.