As a retailer with a wide variety of products, we have a responsibility to ensure high standards of animal welfare in our supply chains. We are committed to following practices that support the welfare of animals sourced for food and non-food products, and these practices are regularly updated to align with industry and government standards and guidelines1.
Our goal is to ensure that our suppliers adopt and implement high standards of animal welfare across our food and general merchandise supply chains.
We believe in the Five Freedoms of animal welfare, by which 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:
When feeding, watering or sheltering.
Food Animal Welfare Commitments
These following commitments outline our requirements for suppliers of poultry, eggs, pork, dairy and beef. This includes our goals to transition to 100% cage-free shell eggs by 2025, pending available supply; to transition our pork supply to be raised in an open pen gestation system; and our stance on antibiotics and antimicrobial stewardship.
We expect our suppliers to follow or exceed the All supplier partners must comply with these standards standards below when producing products for sale at Target. Our commitment applies to the following product groups:
- 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.
- Pork: Documented adherence to the Pork Quality Assurance+ (PQA+) and Transportation Quality Assurance+ (TQA+) and to the North American Meat Institute slaughter guidelines.
- Dairy: Documented adherence to Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program.
- 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.
Target commits to transition to only cage-free shell eggs by 2025, pending available supply. The extreme volatility in the egg market and the impact of avian influenza on our two largest facilities producing Good & Gather cage-free eggs in 2022 and continuing into 2023 has significantly impeded our progress on our cage-free goal. Despite headwinds, we are pleased to have achieved an increase in our percentage of sales of shell eggs coming from cage-free systems which improved to 58% in 2022. Additionally, 100% of liquid eggs have been converted to cage-free and all but one national brand fully converted to cage-free or better. We will report annually on our progress.
In 2012, we pledged to eliminate gestation crates from our pork supply chain by 2022. We launched all Good & Gather fresh pork raised in an open pen gestation system in September 2022. Good & Gather represents the vast majority of fresh pork sales. Having achieved this, we are moving towards a true crate-free assortment in Good & Gather. We’ll do this by continuing to collaborate across our value chain to drive progress in the industry, and we are in talks with our business partners on achieving gestation crate-free products via third-party certification.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 antimicrobial2
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.
Animal-derived Raw Material Product Standards
These standards outline prohibited animal-derived raw materials in addition to additional requirements for sourcing other materials.
We only allow for the use of animal-derived raw materials when those animals can be farmed in a way that enables them to have a good quality of life as defined by the Five Freedoms1.
We expect that our suppliers only use skins, down and feathers from animals bred for food and that are a derivative of the food market.
Where available, we expect our suppliers using animal-derived raw materials to use robust traceability and animal welfare assurance schemes.
Owned brand animal-derived raw material product standards
|Category||Prohibited||Additional Requirements, if used||Better Option|
Whiskers/Hair/Bristles derived from wild animals and/or non-food markets
Wool: When wool is used, it must be non-mulesed
Whiskers/Hair: When used, it must only be derived from food supply chain
Wool: Use Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) where possible
Wool: Recycled wool preferred where possible
|Skins||Leather derived from wild animals||Leather: For products in which leather is the primary component, all leather must be derived from the food industry. This includes uses of rawhide and hair on hide**||Leather: Recycled leather preferred where possible|
|Feathers||Feathers derived from wild animals and/or non-food markets|
Down: All products containing feathers must be certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
Other feathers: If used, feathers may only be derived from food supply chain
|Down: Recycled down preferred where possible|
|Other||Bone/horn derived from wild animals and/or non-food markets||Bone/horn: If used, bone/horn may only be derived from food supply chain|
*Fur definition: A thick growth of hair that covers the skin of an animal.
**Hair on hide definition: Tanned leather skins which have not had follicles of hair removed.
Compliance and training
All suppliers must comply with these standards. We also expect supplier partners to maintain written policies detailing best practices for each of the areas relevant to their products. Where possible, we perform product testing protocols to verify conformance with our commitments.
We provide training on animal welfare topics to internal teams responsible for buying or sourcing animal products, and we expect all of our suppliers to provide adequate training to all individuals involved with the direct handling of animals throughout the supply chain.
1 We expect suppliers to adhere to animal-derived raw material product standards in a number of material categories, with the exception of leather, which is our least consumed raw material category within relevant areas of business, and therefore not material.
2 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.”