Tim Hortons, Canada’s mega-popular coffee and bakery chain, has announced that it will stop sourcing pork from any company that uses gestation crates, effective by 2022. Tim Hortons serves several menu items with pork, such as a bacon breakfast sandwich, and a smoked ham and cheese sandwich.

Gestation crates, which confine pregnant sows to cages small enough to prevent them from turning around, have been slowly falling out of practice within the pork industry. Chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have pledged to stop buying from companies that use gestation crates.

The Tim Hortons new corporate responsibility report now states: “We consulted with our suppliers, the pork industry and other stakeholders on the use of gestation stalls for breeding sows and reviewed their plans throughout 2012. By 2022, we will source pork from suppliers who have made a transition to alternative open housing.”

While 2022 may seem like a long time away, switching away from gestation crates cannot happen overnight. In a recent TEDxManhattan talk, Maisie Greenawalt, the vice president of strategy for Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMCO), explained the challenges of soucing enough product from humane meat companies. While public pressure has encouraged meat companies to switch to more animal friendly practices, it is a slow crawl.

BAMCO president Fedele Bauccio also experienced pushback from the pork industry. But when major chains announce these policy changes, major suppliers must follow suit.

Matt Prescott, food policy director for farm animal protection for The Humane Society, said in a press release, “we applaud Tim Hortons for addressing one of the most critical animal welfare issues in food production today. Tim Hortons’ move supports the food industry’s rejection of gestation crates as irresponsible, unsustainable and inhumane.”

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