We continue to work with the vendor community to embrace new best practices in animal welfare. In the last several years, Kroger has committed to addressing gestation crates for pregnant sows, evaluating dairy dehorning and the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics, and transitioning to cage-free eggs.
Our suppliers continue to move away from the use of gestation crates with many stating publicly their goals for complete transition. We support compliance with the National Pork Producers Council's, "Pork Quality Assurance Plan" (PQA) and "Transport Quality Assurance" (TQA) programs.
We continue to monitor the practice of dehorning (or disbudding) of dairy and beef cattle and have sought diverse perspectives around this issue. We also understand that several leading dairy farms that supply Kroger are integrating a significant portion of polled bulls into their herds. Kroger is encouraging this transition but understands that polled genetics will require a thoughtful, long-term transition to be integrated into responsible herd management. We also support the proper pain management protocols for disbudding as approved by the American Veterinarian Medical Association during this transition.
Kroger has requested that the dairy co-ops that supply us are, at a minimum, enrolled in The National Dairy F.A.R.M. Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management™, which provides consistency and uniformity of best practices in animal care and quality assurance in the dairy industry. By the end of 2016, 100% of dairy farms supplying raw milk to Kroger were enrolled in the F.A.R.M. program, and committed to continuous improvement. Further, Kroger has representation on the Innovation Center for US Dairy's Animal Welfare committee to assist and encourage continued improvements to this certification. We applaud the recent modifications and improvement to the 2017 protocol.
Kroger is leading the industry with our offerings of antibiotic free meats. In addition to several national brands, our Simple Truth™ line of chicken, beef and pork is available in stores and is entirely antibiotic free.
As our customer base has been moving to cage-free at an increasing rate, Kroger's goal is to transition to a 100% cage-free egg supply chain by 2025. Currently about 18% of our eggs sold are cage-free. Kroger's family of stores is committed to working with our suppliers during this transition in a way that ensures eggs are readily available, safely produced, and affordably priced for all of our customers.
National Dairy F.A.R.M. Program
"Kroger has long been a supporter of the F.A.R.M. Program—endorsing the core elements of the Program while encouraging its continued evolution so that we continue to not only meet—but exceed—consumer expectations. Kroger's insights and leadership in sustainability and social responsibility have and will continue to be held in the highest regard by the F.A.R.M. Program and entire dairy community."
—Emily Meredith Chief of Staff, National Milk Producers Federation