"Let piglets keep their balls!"
From 2009, Dutch branches of supermarket giants Aldi and Lidl are only going to sell meat from pigs which have not been castrated.
The Dutch pressure group Pigs in Need (VIN) broke the news on Friday morning.
Male piglets have traditionally been castrated because there is a small chance that pork from adult males can give off a gamey smell when cooked.
However, VIN has long argued that castration is a needless cruelty as the smell only occurs in 1.2 percent of cases. They say the average pork consumer will only come across the problem once in 30 years.
At about 20 million, pigs outnumber people in the Netherlands. The country is Europe's biggest pig exporter and the second largest globally. Dutch television viewers have recently been treated to graphic film reports showing piglets squealing as they undergo castration at farms. Aldi and Lidl now appear to have been won over by the animal welfare arguments.
VIN director Hans Baaij hopes other major players will follow their lead. "This is a breakthrough and, if they can do it, why can't other companies," he asks. VIN is now targetting its campaign against two major Dutch supermarket chains, Albert Hein and C1000, which have no plans to stop selling pork from castrated pigs. VIN is taking the supermarkets to court, citing animal welfare negligence.
Mr Baaij holds the chains responsible for the welfare of farm animals:
"They control the situation and are responsible for the way pigs are farmed in the Netherlands. Supermarkets determine the supply and the prices and, through this, the animals' welfare."
The Dutch supermarket umbrella organisation has already undertaken that, from 2009, shops will stop selling products made from pigs castrated without anaesthetic. Pigs farmers, meanwhile, are being trained to administer anaesthetising gas to piglets, and it is hoped to introduce an alternative to surgical castration from 2015. The Central Bureau for Food Trade complains that pigs farmers are being landed with considerably more work.
Media reports put the number of pigs castrated per year in the Netherlands at 3 million. An estimated 275,000 piglets per year will be spared the painful operation because of the Aldi and Lidl decision.
Pigs in Need says 8 million piglets from Dutch farms are transported abroad each year. Market demands lead to an ever increasing pig population and operations such as tail clipping, teeth filing and castration. The group argues that this represents a serious threat to the quality of life of what is a highly social and intelligent animal.