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Animal welfare: In the hands of the retailer

Supermaket, groceries, meatI have no doubt many who read this will roll their eyes and write it off as another article by some random tree hugger, just as there will be others who bypass it in a shrug of self-denial under the pretence of ignorance.

The truth is I cringe in mortification for lacking the courage and in not addressing my shortcomings and apathy towards the holocaust of animal abuse over the decades on my own and fellow consumer’s behalf. How is it we have allowed the senseless testing on animals so we might paint our face or alleviate overindulgence? How is it we turn a blind eye to the carnage in rearing high volumes of livestock to save a dollar in the supermarket with no regard to their welfare and rights?

How do we justify factory farming? Where farrowing crates [metal cages] confine breeding sows prior and post birth of piglets, so small, the mother is unable to turn around, let alone provide for her behavioural welfare. Layer hens are beak-trimmed restricted to an A4 area in windowless sheds under low light, most experience difficulty walking. Tragically the list is endless and beggars belief why supermarkets have failed to differentiate themselves from their competition in this regard.

Like everything, we decide what is acceptable on what we can get away with and husbandry is no exception. The gory details are concealed via wholesome marketing ploys and in veiling the origin of the end product from the duplicitous consumer. For we all know, the where, the how and the why, yet opt to berate others who raise the alarm of perpetrated atrocities.

Retail too has an important role to play in enforcing an improvement in the treatment of every creature. The industry is in a quandary as they contemplate, debate and plan the future of retailing whether it’s online; bricks and mortar; technology; or generations, X Y and Z. A paltry storm in a teacup compared to the heinous crimes surrounding the mistreatment of animals. Imagine the competitive distinction of a brand where emotional intelligence, empathy and the support of meaningful life adds value not only to pets, working peers and loyal protectors but also our fragile veneer of humanity?

6a0120a565428a970c01b8d08e7aa4970c-500wiRetail can and must employ the same due diligence of ethical sourcing and sustainability for all, just as it is afforded to human conditions in factories around the world by responsible retailers. The producer has no alternative but to respond if they hope to remain in business and those who refuse to comply must be exposed and prosecuted accordingly. In turn, the public will rise to the occasion by championing the change through their patronage and inevitable social media pressures.

Do not believe the convenient misinformation about animals lacking emotion, feelings and expectation for those are malicious lies of deceit and per chance may be why the human race struggles to find self-enlightenment and solace. Step back awhile and look at what is really happening and not what you choose to see then summon the fortitude to make a stand for the weak frightened and abused.

I bet you don’t.

Retail might be about people for people by people, but without consideration and co-existence of life and the planet, all is irrelevant.

Dave Farrell is a retailer and writer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at Freelance Alliance NZ on

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