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Update on Animal Welfare In Our Responsible Sourcing Strategy

December 31, 2020

Dec. 31, 2020 – We continue to evolve our responsible sourcing strategy by creating a framework that supports our corporate responsibility roadmap, Better Tomorrow 2025, and the needs of our clients. Our commitment to animal welfare fits firmly into our work on sustainable agriculture. As we continue to advance our approach, we have updated our global Animal Welfare Supplier Charter and supporting materials to include specific language that addresses animal living conditions, management processes, transportation and monitoring of key welfare metrics.

Improving Transparency

Transparency is essential in all our responsible sourcing work as many times the desired impact requires changes that are beyond the control of any one company or step in the value chain. Collective action, sharing best practices and sharing challenges will lead to lasting change. For example, we are working closely with our suppliers and NGO stakeholders to establish better tracking of broiler chicken improvements. 

Additionally, it is equally important that we call out where we are challenged and how we intend to move forward. In our annual review, we identified two areas that need our immediate focus—cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork operations.

Cage-Free Eggs

In the U.S., we did improve transparency by enhancing how we report our progress annually on cage-free eggs to better align with the reporting needs of our NGO collaborators. 

We began our U.S. journey toward cage-free eggs in 2012 with a commitment to source our shell eggs from cage-free operations within two years. After developing our sourcing in the shell eggs supply chain, we added liquid and other processed eggs to our commitment with a five-year timeline, to be complete in 2020. As part of our reporting process, which includes third-party auditing, our achievements for the year ending May 31, 2020 include: 80% in shell eggs, 83% in liquid eggs and 57% in processed eggs. 

We identified our biggest challenge in our root-cause analysis—a disconnect between the contracted products that we source and the buying habits of our units. Over the years, we have had a variety of successes and challenges with our contracted providers in an effort to increase capacity and meet our significantly large demand. Despite these challenges, we are committed to pushing forward to our 100% cage-free goal. 

This effort will require behavior change and systems controls. In the short-term, we will utilize detailed reporting to identify and work with sites that are non-compliant. As part of our lasting change strategy, we are deploying procurement systems to better control the buying process and closely manage and monitor buying behaviors. This work entails IT and system upgrades, and we expect to have the desired impact within 24 months. 

While our rigorous process of auditing a full year of data proves that 100% sourcing goals will have some fluctuations, we are committed to setting aspirational 100% goals as it helps us uncover challenges that need to be addressed as we push for that high bar.

Crate-free Pork Operations

Also, in 2012, we announced our effort to phase out the use of gestation crates by 2022 in partnership with our pork suppliers. For the year ending May 31, 2020, 24% of our pork came from traceable reduced crate supply chains, and a small amount from completely crate-free operations. While there is a lack of widespread industry movement toward reduced-crate and fully crate-free practices, we realize that we need to completely revise our plan of action with an understanding that we may not achieve our 2022 timeline. 

We remain committed to moving to crate-free pork operations and have taken immediate action to source at least 20% of crate-free pork by 2023. We will also develop a comprehensive plan for a 100% crate-free pork goal, including a glide path for the next three years that we expect to share in Q2 of 2021.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, we intend to advance our commitment in animal welfare, and we look forward to another year of progress. We will continue to share in our annual reporting of a full year’s data that is audited independently by a third-party.

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