Perdue Foods today announced a renewed focus on animal care, a continuation of its focus on premium, trusted brands that meet evolving consumer expectations. Chairman Jim Perdue shared the company’s commitments to animal care, a four-part plan that will accelerate its progress in animal care, strengthen relationships with farmers, build trust with multiple stakeholder groups and create an animal care culture for continued improvement.
Perdue Farms Chairman Jim Perdue says the company wants to continue to strengthen its relationship with the farmers who raise its chickens.(Photo: Business Wire)
“As we continue to learn about innovative and better ways to raise animals through our No Antibiotics Ever journey and our experience in raising organic chickens, we are adopting a four-part plan which will result in changing how we raise chickens,” said Chairman Jim Perdue. “Transparency is very important to Perdue consumers, who are interested knowing how we raise, care for and harvest our chickens. Our vision is to be the most trusted name in food and agricultural products and animal care is a big part of that journey.”
“Poultry production as a whole has made great progress in keeping chickens healthy; however, we can improve by implementing policies that go beyond meeting chickens’ basic needs. We want to create an environment where chickens can express normal behaviors,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, Perdue’s senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production. “Over the past five years, we’ve been exposed to and learned some husbandry techniques associated with organic production. And, through the brands that have recently joined our company, we’ve been able to learn from some of the pioneers of a more holistic approach to animal well-being. When we talked to farmers they responded very positively to these improved husbandry methods. In addition, we hear from consumers that how animals raised for food are treated is important to them.”
The first major company to commit to implementing such progressive practices in raising and harvesting animals system-wide, Perdue’s Commitments to Animal Care goes well beyond most other companies’ commitments to encompass not only the animals but the people who care for and handle them, as well as stakeholders who have an interest in this area.
Specifically the four-part plan commits to:
“Our four commitments have one goal and that is continued improvement in animal care. We know we’re not where we want to be yet but we want to allow others to take the journey with us,” said Stewart-Brown.
“From lessons learned from organic chicken houses, it’s clear that there can be a general health benefit with increased activity-and that is a big focus of our plan. Short-term goals that support increased activity include window installations in 200 existing poultry houses by the end of 2016 and studying the role of enrichments such as perches and bales of hay to encourage activity. Our goal is to double the activity of our chickens in the next three years.”
“I think it’s wonderful that Perdue is taking these initiatives. We’re almost going back in time with what we’re doing, and putting the chickens back in a more natural state. I think we’re moving in the right direction making sure these birds are in a more natural habitat, and they’re more content,” said Georgie Cartanza, a 10-year poultry farmer from Camden, Delaware.
Retailers such as BJ’s Wholesale Club also expressed their support for this initiative.
Perdue has quietly excelled at stewardship for years. As consumers increasingly consider the origin of their food, the scale of Perdue’s commitments to animal care will further conversations around responsible food production from the farmer to the consumer, and bring progressive raising practices into the mainstream.
Perdue’s renewed focus on animal care is a continuation of its nearly 100-year history of listening to customers and commitment to meeting consumer expectations for the food they share with their families.
“We are only just getting started. Our animal care plan is not a static document – it is an ongoing journey focused on learning, listening and responding to further advance how we care for animals as well as how we will continue to strengthen our relationship with the farmers who raise our chickens,” said Perdue. “It’s not the cheapest or easiest way to produce food; it’s the Perdue way.”