This week, Domino’s Pizza shareholders voted to reject a resolution offered by the Humane Society of the United States to require its pork suppliers to stop housing gestating sows in stalls.
Perhaps equally as surprising is the overwhelming margin of the vote-- 80 percent of shareholders voting against the HSUS-proposed resolution, 4 percent voted in favor, 16 percent abstained. The vote came at the pizza chain’s 2012 shareholders’ meeting.
The Domino’s decision runs counter to actions taken just this week by Burger King, as well as previous pledges by McDonald’s and Wendy’s, among other foodservice entities to only purchase pork products from producers who don’t use gestation-sow stalls.
HSUS purchased stock in the Ann Arbor-based pizza chain in 2010—one of many such holdings that HSUS maintains. As a shareholder, HSUS submitted a resolution last fall asking Domino’s to report on the feasibility of ensuring its pork products come from producers that don’t use gestation-sow stalls.
Domino’s Board of Directors response to the resolution, as reported by AnnArbor.com, was-- “We believe this is an issue that should be addressed directly with producers and suppliers, not customers.”
This is not the first time that Domino’s shareholders have considered such a resolution. The issue was brought up at last year's meeting. Nor will it be the last time that they face the topic.
“We’re pleased that 4 percent of all Domino’s shareholders feel strongly enough about animal protection to vote for our resolution, with an additional 16 percent at least abstaining from the vote so as to not block the resolution,” says Matthew Prescott, HSUS’ food policy director. “We’re also pleased that the vote we garnered is of a sufficient level to allow us to resubmit a resolution to the company next year, if it fails to address the gestation crate issue by that time.”
Its proxy statement Domino’s Board of Directors pointed out that the company’s pork suppliers use animals from farms “that use a variety of animal management systems, including from farms that do not use gestation stalls.” It also cited the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) published statements indicating there are advantages and disadvantages to both cage-free and caged pork production methods.
“We rely on animal experts to determine what is the best way to raise an animal that’s being used for food,” said Tim McIntyre, Domino's spokesperson.
Michigan is one of the states that established a timeline for its pork producers to stop using gestation-sow stalls. The law goes into effect in April 2020 and will allow producers to move gestating sows into stalls just seven days before they’re due to farrow.
McIntyre said Domino’s is monitoring the issue. “We are paying attention to what McDonald's and Burger King are doing and this is not a company that is holding its collective hand to its ears or to its eyes,” he said.