How animal welfare affects shopping in Europe

13-04-2007 | | |
How animal welfare affects shopping in Europe

The results of a Welfare Quality® study, funded by the EU, show that across Europe, a large majority of consumers find farm animal welfare important.

This ranged from 69% of respondents in the Netherlands, 73% in the UK, 75% in France to 83% in Hungary and Sweden. Norway and Italy scored the highest, with 84% and 87% respectively.
There is still concern among consumers, first of all related to conditions in poultry production, but also to conditions of pigs. Compared to these, people tend to see the treatment of dairy cows as least worrisome. People are concerned about conditions on the farm; transportation and slaughtering are also met with concern.
Quite a few consumers do think about such issues when shopping for eggs, beef or milk. These proportions are generally much higher than the market shares for special animal-friendly products. This indicates a wider consumer definition of food animal welfare than product labels offer.
Italian and French respondents are quite worried about welfare conditions in their own country; concerns are often associated with food purchasing, and trust in actors in the food sector is relatively low. Hungarians do worry about the issue and they are also more pessimistic about current trends, but animal welfare is of less relevance when shopping. The Dutch display lower general interest, but many worry. Many do think of welfare conditions when shopping for eggs and beef. Swedes and the Norwegians are trusting and not worried. Particularly in Norway, animal welfare is rarely associated with the consumer role.
When asked about changes over the last ten years, there is considerable optimism in most countries. A majority of consumers thinks that conditions for farm animals have improved, while less than one in five think that the situation has become worse.
For more information or the complete report, visit
Or contact Unni Kjaerness, The National Institute for Consumer Research, Norway.