At Albertsons Companies, we strive to maintain high animal welfare standards across all areas of our business. Our relationships with industry experts have guided our animal welfare policies. Our Animal Well-Being Advisory Council is made up of experts from academia and industry. We value their support and guidance on the humane treatment of animals.
As a grocer, providing what our customers want is at the heart of all the decisions we make. Simply put, we want to run really good stores where customers love to shop and can find the products they want, and part of that philosophy includes responsibly increasing the quantity of pork we source from vendors that have made commitments to transitioning to group-housed systems for their breeding sows. As our company has grown, we have also expanded the availability and quantity of our Open Nature pork products, which come exclusively from group-housed sow sources.
All eggs in O Organics™ and Open Nature brands are cage-free and are certified to meet humane standards for animal treatment. In 2018, 29% of the liquid and shell eggs sold in our stores were cage-free. We anticipate the percentage of cage-free eggs increasing due to factors such as consumer demand, regulatory changes, and suppliers increasing the amount of cage-free eggs in the market. We are actively working with our supply chain to expedite the transition and also exploring ways to educate the consumer about the product.
We believe in the responsible use of livestock antibiotics for the prevention, control and treatment of disease, and we recommend our suppliers follow the American Veterinary Medical Association Judicious Use Guidelines. Suppliers that misuse antibiotics, feed additives or supplements that cause a negative impact to an animal’s well-being are excluded from our programs.
We conduct annual humane handling audits through our own internal PAACO Certified auditor on our Own Brand vendors in addition to requiring our fresh beef and pork suppliers to have 3rd party validation on-file of meeting AMI Standards for Humane Handling guidelines. We are also a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, as well as a member of the Pork Retail Advisory Committee, which meets at least once a year to review relevant industry issues, including animal well-being.