Our Commitments to Animal Welfare
Animal welfare is a priority at Empire and Sobeys Inc., as well as our valued stakeholders, including our customers, investors and animal rights organizations. Everyone in our industry, at every step of the supply chain, has a role to play in ensuring the animal products we source are sourced respectfully.
In an effort to move the needle forward on the wellbeing of pregnant sows and laying hens, in 2013 and 2016 respectively, major grocery retailers in Canada announced two commitments:
- To source all fresh pork products from producers using gestation crate-free housing systems by the end of 2022
- To source only cage-free eggs by the end of 2025
Our industry has learned a lot since we made these public commitments. Retailers and suppliers agree, these are the right goals to work towards. Since the retailers made these commitments, we’ve learned that the supply chain needs more time to adapt and change. We are all committed to continue working to these goals and the complexities they create. We’ve made some progress to date. For our fiscal year 2021 (May 3, 2020 – May 1, 2021), cage-free eggs (free run, free range, organic) made up 17.5% of our total shell egg sales. By partnering with our supplier base, loose housing systems are used by an increasing portion of our Own Brand pork suppliers. For example, for our Own Brand lean ground pork, greater than 30% of the sows from our supplier are housed in loose housing systems*. We will continue to work with our supplier partners to increase these rates within our business.
The Industry is working together, through the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) to continue to improve the Codes of Practice on these issues and to align on an industry-wide reporting cadence on these metrics. We will participate in these important forums to move the entire industry forward, towards higher animal welfare standards. Further details will be included and reported in our 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report that will be released later this year.
*Loose housing is defined as systems that allow for the housing of sows in group pens during their gestation period. For the safety of the animals and caregivers, sows are housed in stalls during their nursing and breeding stages.
Feed Your Family Instead of the Landfill
On October 19, 2020, in recognition of #WasteReductionWeek in Canada, we launched a National Food Waste consumer-education campaign in many of our grocery banners – Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Foodland, IGA West, FreshCo and Chalo! FreshCo. In an effort to enable and inspire Canadians to reduce food waste in their own homes, we provided tips and tricks to help enjoy more taste and less waste. We covered the following topics:
- Storage – where to store your food to give it the longest shelf life.
- Refrigerating – how to properly organize your refrigerator according to temperature zones.
- Canning – outlining the process for canning foods at home to preserve seasonal flavours to enjoy year-round.
- Freezing – highlighting many different foods that can be frozen to extend their freshness.
- Dehydrating – outlining the process for dehydrating produce using your oven to extend its life and enjoy as a tasty treat.
- Portioning – how to approximate how much food to cook to avoid cooking too much.
This content is currently available on the following banner brand websites and we welcome you to visit to learn how we can all do OurPart™ to reduce Food Waste!
Remaining Atlantic Banners Say Goodbye to Plastic Bags
We support Atlantic Canada’s commitment to sustainability! As of October 1, all Sobeys Inc. banner stores in Atlantic Canada are now free of single-use plastic bags at our checkouts. We have transitioned to recyclable, compostable paper bags. We will also continue to offer a variety of reusable bags for purchase. We owe a huge thank-you to our customers for helping to better our communities and our planet. Together, we can do OurPart™ for future generations.
Building a Canada-wide Circle of Support for Child & Youth Mental Health
- In August, 2020 Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations (CCHF), together with the Sobey Foundation and Sobeys Inc., announced A Family of Support Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative — an early intervention mental health initiative that will help kids while they’re still kids, giving them the best possible chance to thrive.
- The initiative will fund local mental health programs to support specific provincial needs at 13 Canadian children’s hospitals.
- Over the coming years, our family of 127,000 teammates will continue to step up and advocate for early intervention of child and youth mental health. At the highest level, we hope that by working together, the programs identified to-date will decrease the chronic health burden on children and their families, reduce family stress, lower health care and social costs, and improve quality of life and health outcomes – ultimately allowing more children to navigate their mental health challenges and grow into healthy adults.
- Between September 17 and October 1, 2020, Canadian grocery shoppers had the opportunity to donate to the A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative through a fundraising campaign organized by Empire Company Limited, Sobeys Inc. and their associated banner stores (Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Farm Boy, Foodland, FreshCo, Lawton’s Drugs, Thrifty Foods, Co-op, Needs Convenience, Pete’s Fine Foods, Rachelle Béry, and Voisin) across the country. $2.2 million was raised.