Food Animal Welfare Commitments

Featured content

We believe that every animal deserves to be: 

  • Free from hunger & thirst.
  • Free from discomfort.
  • Free of pain, injury or disease.
  • Free to express normal behavior.
  • Free from fear and distress.

For their entire lifetime, including: 

  • Birth.
  • Growth/rearing/breeding.
  • When feeding, watering or sheltering.  
  • Transport.
  • Slaughter.

Scope

We expect our suppliers to follow or exceed the standards below when producing products for sale at Target. Our commitment applies to the following product groups:  

Food:  

  • Meat (beef, pork, lamb) and poultry (chicken, turkey).
  • Shell eggs.
  • Dairy products.
  • Meat, poultry or dairy deli products.

Standards and commitments 

We expect our vendor partners producing both owned brand and national brand food and beverage items to meet or exceed the following standards:  

Poultry: Documented adherence to the National Chicken Council (NCC) and National Turkey Federation (NTF) guidelines. 

Eggs: Documented adherence to the United Egg Producers (UEP) guidelines.  

Furthermore, Target commits to transition to only cage-free shell eggs by 2025, pending available supply. As we look ahead to meeting our 2025 commitment, we are pleased with our progress to date and our plans going forward. As of the end of 2021, 57% of our sales of shell eggs and 100% of our sales of liquid eggs came from cage free or better* systems. We expect that by the end of 2022, 75-80% of the shell eggs we sell will come from cage-free chickens, 80-85% by the end of 2023, 85-90% by the end of 2024 and 100% by the end of 2025. We will report annually on our progress in Target’s ESG Report

Pork: Documented adherence to the Pork Quality Assurance+ (PQA+), Transportation Quality Assurance+ (TQA+) and North American Meat Institute slaughter guidelines.   

In 2012, we pledged to eliminate gestation crates from our pork supply chain by 2022. As of September 2022, 100% of Good & Gather brand fresh pork will be produced using open pen gestation systems. (In this system, breeding sows are housed in gestation crates at the onset of each pregnancy cycle, and then moved into group pens once pregnancy is confirmed.) Good & Gather currently represents the majority of all fresh pork sold at Target.   

As we look ahead, we continue to expect that all pork suppliers further reduce, and eventually eliminate, the number of days sows are housed in gestation crates. We will report annually on our progress in Target’s ESG Report. Beyond having this expectation for our direct suppliers, Target plans to directly support pork producers as they make this change to their infrastructure and practices. We are currently exploring options for driving change in this area and plan to provide an update by the end of FY 2022 with further details. 

Dairy: Documented adherence to the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program.  

Target supports advances in dairy farming practices to include the use of genetic breeding programs to promote polled cattle (naturally hornless) to benefit the welfare of the cows and of the farmers who care for them by eliminating the need for dehorning.  

Target supports the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) ban on tail docking and asks suppliers to provide evidence that they do not use this practice. 

Beef: Documented adherence to the North American Meat Institute slaughter guidelines. Target supports its beef vendors transitioning to Dr. Temple Grandin’s Responsible Cattle Care Audit program. 

Pain management 

We ask all suppliers of meat, deli and dairy products to find and implement alternative solutions to painful procedures (for example, tail docking, de-horning and castration) where possible. We ask that pain management be used during the transition period of eliminating painful procedures. 

Stunning requirements 

Meat and poultry suppliers must ensure that animals are rendered unconscious and insensible to pain prior to slaughter, except where prohibited by religious constraint. Target supports the Orthodox Union ban on the shackling and hoist method for kosher slaughter and asks suppliers to provide evidence that they do not use this practice and are using Dr. Temple Grandin’s Upright Restrain Box Method.

Auditing 

We expect all suppliers of meat and egg products to work with their suppliers to conduct weekly internal animal welfare evaluations and, at a minimum, annual third party animal welfare audits on every farm supplying Target. They must provide third party audit details and results to Target on an annual basis. We expect all suppliers of dairy products to work with their suppliers to conduct weekly internal animal welfare evaluations and, at a minimum, annual second party FARM program evaluations on every farm supplying Target. They must provide evaluation details and results to Target on an annual basis.  

Antibiotics and antimicrobial*  

We believe sick animals must be treated appropriately to end or reduce suffering. When antibiotics or antimicrobials are administered by a registered veterinarian, using them judiciously for therapeutic purposes, they play a critical role in the overall well-being of an animal. 
However, we do not support the use of routine, non-therapeutic antimicrobials to promote growth or prevent disease. We expect our suppliers and the producers they work with to phase out these practices and only use antimicrobials when medically necessary. 

There is greater risk to human health when antimicrobial-resistant bacteria develop due to overuse and misuse of certain medically-important antimicrobials. In response to this risk, we ask our suppliers to minimize and remove the use of those deemed critical for human health listed in the “2017 WHO guidelines on use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals” and listed in FDA Guidance #152. 

We also request that our suppliers promote transparency by annually providing an antibiotics management report to Target and publicly report antibiotic use on an annual basis.  

*American Veterinary Medical Association FAQ: Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial, but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics. The term “antimicrobial” is the proper scientific term, while the word “antibiotic” is generally more widely used, so we use both words in the title and at the beginning of the section, then continue using the proper scientific term, “antimicrobial.”