All hog producers and employees who care for our hogs participate in the Hormel Foods Quality Assurance Program. This program certifies them in the proper way to transport and treat animals on their farms. In addition, all farms are subject to third-party audits.

Our annual Spirit of Excellence Awards recognize hog producers that exemplify our commitment to quality at Hormel Foods. In 2015, we awarded 87 suppliers with a Spirit of Excellence Award for their roles in the company’s continuous improvement process throughout the last year. This includes 30 awards in the pork procurement category and three awards in the provisions category.

Quality assurance and operations personnel perform daily internal audits in our processing facilities to maintain the highest animal care practices. In 2015, seven external audits were performed by outside auditors in our processing facilities. Internally, we participated in 991 formal audits and 64 audits were conducted by company management at our processing facilities on an unannounced, random basis. In 2015, we received one incident of noncompliance with laws and regulations and voluntary standards related to transportation, handling and slaughtering practices.

At Hormel Foods company-owned farms, we raise our hogs in climate-controlled barns. Raising animals indoors is beneficial because our housing systems keep animals healthier, protecting them from predators, diseases and extreme weather conditions. Within these facilities, 100 percent of our market hogs are housed in group pens. We constantly monitor scientific research to understand the best animal treatment practices. By 2018, all company-owned hog farms will transition to group sow housing. As of October 2015, we’ve successfully converted 25 percent of company-owned sows to group sow housing. Remaining conversions are set to be completed by 2018.

In 2015, we partnered with the Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic to help define long-term health strategies for all of our company-owned operations. Through this partnership, they assigned an experienced veterinarian to each of our locations, and in addition to defining long-term health strategies, they provide routine assistance to the local production team.

To learn more about animal welfare for hogs at Hormel Foods, visit the animal welfare section of our corporate site.