Retailers’ Concern For Animal Welfare In Spain
In the last decade, animal advocates in Spain have helped generate a great deal of media attention for farmed animals. Thanks to the work of groups like Animal Equality (Igualdad Animal), groundbreaking investigations and advocacy have kept animal issues at the forefront of public consciousness. Some reports have shown a rise in consumers’ concern about animal welfare, as well as a willingness to pay to ensure that animal products meet welfare standards. As an essential part of the supply chain, retailers are in the middle of changing consumer beliefs and producers that try assure people that their farms meet ethical standards. This study looks at the attitudes of retailers towards animal welfare and examines changes in those attitudes from 2006 to 2011.
Researchers surveyed managers from retail meat stores in the city of Zaragoza, in northeast Spain. They surveyed the stores once in 2006 and again in 2011, covering more than 95% of the stores in the city. In more than 90% of stores, the same people managed the operation. Interestingly, while the researchers note that various stakeholders have increased their concern for animal welfare over recent years, concern among retailers had declined. While awareness remains high, the retailers surveyed “had a more realistic knowledge about the customer’s attitude on animal welfare issues,” which is related to purchasing behavior. In recent years, potentially owing to the financial crisis in Spain, retailers have marketed meat through lower prices. Animal welfare as a marketing tactic has fallen by the wayside.
How does the upward trend in advocacy relate (if at all) to this seemingly opposite trend? This paper doesn’t connect those dots, but it would be potentially valuable information for researchers to gather and for advocates to consider. The apparent disconnect between consumer concerns and retailer attention to animal welfare is an important one. Closing this gap could lead to new connections for advocates and new advances for animals.