Niman Ranch: New Perdue Ownership Doesn’t Mean Animal Welfare Standards Will Change

Upon the news that Niman Ranch had been bought by poultry giant Perdue, some customers of the specialty meats business have expressed fears that the company they know and love for its animal welfare standards will change its act under the new ownership. Those concerns have prompted Perdue and Niman Ranch, along with one of its biggest customers, Chipotle, to reassure customers that they’ve got nothing to worry about.

“That’s severely disappointing to hear… I can’t equate humane with Purdue,” one person wrote on Niman’s Facebook page in response to the announcement, with others echoing similar sentiments.

Niman Ranch has been replying to customers, writing that it’s “still dedicated to its commitment to the strict animal welfare protocols” that guide the way its animals are raised. Despite other ownership changes in the past, Niman says, its “values and practices have remained the same.”

“We always strive to give our farmers the stability they need to continue the sustainable practices we all believe in, and we hope to continue to prove that to you in the future,” the company wrote.

Perdue has also been addressing concerns with a statement of its own. “With the long, family-owned heritage of our company, we understand and respect what Niman Ranch represents,” Perdue Farms chairman Jim Perdue said. “All Niman Ranch livestock will continue to be raised by the same small family farmers and ranchers, following the same protocols, and with the same focus on sustainability.”

Chipotle customers also relayed their concerns on social media about the chain’s connection to Niman Ranch, which it sources much of its pork from. Chipotle touts its high-quality and sustainably sourced ingredients as a major factor setting it apart from its rivals. The chain’s pork suppliers are required to raise pigs in deeply bedded barns with access to the outside to roam, for example, instead of being held in cramped pens.

“How are you going to maintain your guarantee for fresh pork [without] hormones and antibiotics with this change?” a customer asked Chipotle on its Facebook page (via Business Insider).

“We have an internal team who visits our farms and checks on these things. Niman Ranch has a stellar reputation, one I am sure they want to keep,” Chipotle replied from its official account.

And while Perdue has made moves on its own to address animal welfare concerns, announcing recently that half its chickens will be raised entirely without antibiotics, the company admits it still has room for improvement when it comes to animal welfare. Niman Ranch can help there, Jim Perdue told the New York Times.

“We absolutely can learn from them in that area,” he said. “I think they can bring us a lot of new ideas, especially in the sow production side of the business.”

Perdue Buys Niman Ranch, as It Expands in Specialty Meat Business [New York Times]

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