Are animal welfare aspects of relevance in consumers’ purchase decision

Recurring reports on animal husbandry conditions as well as the maltreatment of animals during transport to slaughterhouses in the last years increased public concerns about animal welfare conditions showing the need to act for all stakeholders throughout the meat supply chain (e.g. Bánáti, 2011). As a consequence animal wel-fare has become one of the priorities on the agenda of politicians (see the coalition agreement in 2013; CDU et al., 2013), consumer policy and protection agencies and is intensively discussed in the private sector as well as in academia. In Germany, in particular the ‘Initiative Tierwohl’ continuously gains in importance and in 2013 for the first time an EU animal welfare label was established. However, the increasing stated interest in animal welfare is not yet reflected by sales figures in the meat mar-ket. In literature different reasons addressing multiple levels of the topic are discussed for this discrepancy (e.g. Hartmann et al., 2014). One factor is the lack of a universally accepted definition and understanding of animal welfare due to its multidimensional character (Lagerkvist and Hess, 2014). Another reason is the potential so-cial desirability bias which occurs to different extent depending on the survey method used to elicit the prefer-ences of the actors. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to get deeper insights into first, consumers’ understanding of animal welfare by identifying the relevant aspects of animal welfare in consumers’ decision making process while pur-chasing meat. Second, we use two methods to assess the relevance of animal welfare issues for consumers when thinking about the purchase of meat to quantify the extent the different survey methods construct sur-vey results rather than elicit consumer preferences. For this purpose an online survey with N = 926 participants was conducted in July 2012. The investigated meat products were chicken and pork cutlet. Consumers’ preferences for different product attributes were meas-ured via a questionnaire as well as by an individualized Information Display Matrix (IDM). As to the first research question, the results indicate that with respect to animal welfare aspects the one of especially high relevance to consumers is animal husbandry conditions while e.g. slaughtering or feeding is of lower importance. The results also indicate that animal husbandry conditions are much more relevant for consumers when thinking about the purchase of chicken cutlet compared to pork cutlet. With regard to the second question survey results show that respondents’ preferences obtained via questionnaire and IDM deviate to a considerable extent regarding the attribute price. While participants stated in the questionnaire that price is of minor importance, the analysis based on the IDM displays clearly that price plays a paramount role in consum-ers’ meat information search process. Thus, we see evidence that the two survey methods are prone to suffer to a different degree from the social desirability bias. The results can help policy makers, manufacturers and retailers as well as NGOs in promoting and selling meat produced according to higher animal welfare standards. Successful promotion of such products is only possible if there is a good understanding of the animal welfare characteristics important to consumers.

Schiefer, Gerhard
Rickert, Ursula
Issue Date:
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN 2194-511X (Other)
PURL Identifier:
Page range:
Total Pages:

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

Download fulltext

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)