EU Project To Improve Consumer Knowledge Of Farm Animal Welfare
Although consumers are generally concerned about animal welfare, this study shows that people generally do not link animal welfare to purchased food products.
Respondents felt that animal welfare issues in general were important:
- Netherlands (69%)
- UK (73%)
- France (75%)
- Hungary (83%)
- Sweden (83%)
- Norway (84%)
- Italy (87%)
When asked to evaluate the living conditions of chickens, pigs and cattle, those respondents that rated the importance of welfare as high appeared to be less worried about the living conditions of these animals in their own countries and relatively unconcerned in particular about cattle and pigs. While Norwegian and Swedish respondents said that welfare mattered a lot to them, only 25 per cent and 23 per cent respectively expressed any worry over the conditions in which cattle were transported, compared to 58 per cent in Hungary and 56 per cent in Italy.
Among Norwegians and Hungarians, 84 per cent see animal welfare as generally important, while only 26 per cent and 36 per cent respectively think of it when buying meat.
Respondents were then asked to rate the importance of price, treatment (including the slaughter of cattle and outdoor access for hens), when buying eggs and beef. An average of 66 per cent of respondents rated the treatment of the animals as the most important factor.
Hungarian (83) per cent and Italian (84 per cent) respondents said that animal welfare was important to them, 53 per cent and 51 per cent respectively said they found it too time consuming to find the products which were ‘animal friendly’.
The popular understanding of animal welfare only really makes sense within certain cultural-linguistic contexts.
In most countries, the majority of the focus group participants had a limited knowledge of animal farming practices, but associated negative welfare with industrial-intensive methods of production (factory farming), large scale production, and associated positive welfare with small scale production and extensive production.