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Pigs in Focus: ranking evaluates animal welfare policies of the 9 largest pork producers in Brazil


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BRF and JBS tied with Pamplona for first place after announcing a crate-free system for new units; Frimesa received the lowest rating

 

March 13, 2024 – The second edition of the “Pigs in Focus: Brazilian Pig Industry Monitor” report was released this Wednesday (March 13) by the international NGO Sinergia Animal. The publication ranks Brazil’s nine largest pork producers and their animal welfare policies, analyzing the sector’s progress in ending practices that cause animal suffering.


Brazil is the fourth largest pork exporter in the world. In 2023, exports increased by 9% and reached 1.22 million tons (of the total 5 million tons of pork produced annually in Brazil). Mega brands Pamplona, BRF, JBS, Pif Paf, Alegra, Master, Aurora, Alibem, and Frimesa were evaluated. The report is based on their public commitments regarding the use of gestation crates for sows, the inappropriate use of antibiotics on healthy animals, and painful procedures carried out without anesthesia or analgesia—including surgical castration, tail docking, teeth clipping, and ear notching of piglets.

 

Seven of the nine analyzed companies presented changes to their policies. Among the main advances observed in this second edition are the commitments of BRF and JBS—the two largest pork producers in Brazil—to ban the continuous use of gestation crates in all of their units and to migrate to a crate-free system in new units by 2026.


In the previous edition of the report, only Pamplona had such a policy. As a result, the three companies tied for first place in this year’s ranking. “Now, Sinergia Animal is working so that companies adopt the crate-free system throughout their entire operations and not only in new units,” says Cristina Diniz, director of Sinergia Animal in Brazil.

 

“Gestation crates are a controversial practice, banned in the United Kingdom and several other countries for causing intense physical and psychological suffering to animals. This is an extreme form of confinement, where pregnant sows are kept isolated for weeks in a space little larger than their bodies—preventing these intelligent and social animals from walking or even turning around,” explains Diniz.


In 2021, a study by the Datafolha Institute and the animal protection organization Fórum Animal revealed that 88% of Brazilian consumers care about animal welfare in food production.

 

Use of antibiotics and painful procedures


Another practice highlighted by the Pigs in Focus report is tail docking, about which all nine companies remain silent. The procedure is performed indiscriminately on millions of piglets in Brazil without anesthesia or analgesia. The inappropriate use of antibiotics is also widespread, and only Master has committed to banning such practice.

 

“This is a problem that not only affects animals but also threatens human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of antibiotics in healthy animals in livestock farming is one of the main causes of antimicrobial resistance, which could lead to 10 million human deaths per year by 2050. We hope that the pig farming sector recognizes the urgency of the problem and moves forward with policies in 2024 to prohibit the misuse of antibiotics,” says Diniz.


Highlights of the Pigs in Focus report include:


  • In 2023, BRF, JBS, and Pamplona tied in first place. However, none of the companies scored high enough to be classified in the “A” category.


  • To date, no Brazilian company has committed to completely banning gestation crates and adopting a crate-free system in all units.

 

  • In 2023, BRF and JBS—the first and second largest pork producers in Brazil, respectively—committed to migrating to a crate-free system in new units by 2026.

 

  • Frimesa, the fourth largest pork producer in Brazil, is last in the ranking and has not yet commented about adopting a crate-free system, banning painful procedures, or banning the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

 

  • Master is the only company that has no commitment regarding gestation crates.

 

  • After negotiations with Sinergia Animal and other animal welfare organizations, Alibem committed to adopting group housing by 2031. This will impact the lives of more than 70,000 female pigs and move the company up to category D in the ranking.

 

“With the second edition of Pigs in Focus, Sinergia Animal reinforces its purpose of promoting advances in pig welfare, working to end the worst practices in industrial farming, and encouraging transparency in the sector’s production chain,” concludes Diniz.



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