Smithfield Foods, Inc., Smithfield, Va., released the animal care section of its 2017 Sustainability Report, which focuses on the company’s practices to keep animals safe, comfortable and healthy.

Smithfield also released a 360-degree virtual reality video, which transports viewers to one of the company’s wean-to-finish hog farms. The company is said to be the first protein company to leverage this technology, which takes viewers inside a company sow farm.

The 2017 Sustainability Report provides in-depth information about Smithfield's specific leadership positions in the area of animal care, including:

  • First company to commit to group housing systems for pregnant sows on company-owned farms. Today, all pregnant sows on company-owned farms globally, including joint ventures in Mexico, are housed in groups.
  • First and only company in the industry to report antibiotics usage (since 2007).
  • First pork producer to develop and implement a comprehensive, systematic animal welfare management program.
  • First protein company to release virtual reality videos of its hog farms.

"This past year marked a tremendous milestone for Smithfield with the completion of our sow housing conversion," says Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer. "We invested more than $360 million and 10 years into our transition to group housing systems for pregnant sows on company-owned farms and fulfilled that commitment right on schedule in 2017. We were proud to make this commitment a decade ago, a first in the industry, and even prouder now to have fulfilled it."

In addition, the report includes details about Smithfield’s ongoing research to investigate alternatives to antibiotics, including a new vaccine research lab, results of internal and third-party animal care audits and efforts to continually enhance its animal care management system.

"Our approach to animal care is rooted in the fundamental philosophy that the healthier our animals, the healthier our company," says Kenneth Sullivan, president and CEO. "Our bold initiatives create value for our business, our contract growers and supply chain partners, as well as the industry as a whole. Our animal care practices and policies underpin our focus on producing good food the right way."