Recently, there has been a monumental shift in consumer preferences as shoppers demand sustainable and ethical means for their products. Regulations such as Proposition 12 in California require all pork sold in the state to come from sows living in a cage-free space of at least 2.2 m2 (24 ft2). Companies like duBreton are already ahead of the curve thanks to its animal welfare certifications Certified Humane Raised and Handled®, GAP 5-steps®, and organic.
“When we first started ‘doing animal welfare,’ people were skeptical and doubted our success. Today, California is taking a big step toward responsible agriculture, and duBreton is one of the visionary producers who will be able to continue to supply this important American market, which is always at the forefront of trends,” commented Vincent Breton, President of duBreton.
duBreton is committed to cage-free farming and has been so for decades. The company specializes in animal welfare, already exceeding Proposition 12 standards. duBreton’s network of more than 300 family farms does not use gestation crates; does not allow physical alterations such as tail and tooth clipping; and does not allow the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal by-products. Animals are given double or even triple the space and straw bedding to express their natural behavior.
Breton states in the release that keeping a gestating sow without the possibility of moving is no longer acceptable to an ever-growing portion of consumers, and this trade news writer is inclined to agree.
Each farm in the duBreton network is audited annually by an independent third-party auditor, and the company applauds the California initiative and is pleased to see the industry moving toward total respect for the animal.
“We realize how difficult this can be for producers, as we ourselves invested heavily in adopting high animal welfare standards long before it was the trend. We took significant risks, but we knew at the end of the day it was the right thing to do,” continued Breton. “There are a multitude of specific standards that must be met at all times in our humane and organic programs.”
According to the release, Proposition 12 was passed in the 2018 U.S. midterm election, which will prohibit the sale of meat products that do not meet its animal welfare requirements in California beginning in January 2022. This situation is causing concern among pork producers in Québec, Canada, and the United States, who for the most part do not raise their animals in facilities that meet the minimum standards required by the new law.
With about three months until the provisions of Proposition 12 go into effect, duBreton is working tirelessly with new and existing California customers to facilitate the distribution of its products. As noted in the release, this transformation of the industry does not stop there, as Massachusetts also passed a similar proposition in 2016 which will be in force in 2023.
How will our industry continue to innovate and adapt to evolving changes? Stay tuned as we report.