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Sprouts and Whole Foods Receive Favorable Welfare Grading


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has released an inaugural animal welfare study assigning grades to major chains.  Criteria include cage-free eggs, pork derived from sows allowed group housing during gestation and compliance with the Better Chicken Commitment for Broilers.


It is significant that Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market, the only chains receiving an A grade, cater to high-income demographics.


Five chains have ignored the ASPCA criteria including Trader Joe’s, Winn-Dixie and Piggly Wiggly.  Other chains received intermediate grades ranging from B through D.


Although welfare activist groups maintain that consumers are demanding higher levels of welfare, their surveys on which claims are based do not incorporate cost as a variable.  This is evidenced by the virtual cessation of conversion to cage-free egg production, which appears to have stalled at 35 percent of the total U.S. flock. This includes cage-free and certified organic eggs that by definition are required to be cage-free.  The differential in shelf price between eggs derived from conventional cages and alternative systems drives consumer choice and volume.  During times when consumers exhibit sensitivity to prices, demand for the least expensive food products transcends non-quantifiable attributes such as welfare and sustainability.