Meat & Livestock News

Indifference at the Checkout: The Gap Between Animal Welfare Concerns and Consumer Behavior

TL;DR: A recent study in Germany reveals a disconnect between consumers’ stated interest in animal welfare and their purchasing decisions. Despite different in-store marketing strategies to highlight animal welfare standards, researchers found no significant impact on the choice of meat products with higher welfare certifications among 630 participants. This suggests a gap between consumer attitudes and actions when it comes to animal welfare in food choices.

In a revealing study out of Germany, the gap between consumer concern for animal welfare and their actual buying habits has been brought into sharp focus.

Conducted collaboratively by the University of Bonn, Technical University – Munich, and Maastricht University, this research delved into the effectiveness of animal welfare labelling in influencing consumer purchases of meat products.

Using a virtual supermarket setup, the study introduced participants to a variety of proteins displayed alongside different forms of animal welfare marketing. These included meat packaging labels that adhere to Germany’s colour scheme introduced in 2019, which ranks producer compliance with animal welfare standards from basic legal requirements to advanced humane handling practices.

Participants were divided into three groups, each exposed to a distinct marketing strategy: standard welfare labels on packaging, additional overhead banners echoing the label information, and labels placed next to price tags, highlighting only the top two tiers of humane handling standards.

The findings, published in the Journal of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, underscore a notable indifference among consumers towards animal welfare labelling at the point of purchase. Across all three scenarios involving 630 participants, no statistically significant preference was demonstrated for meat products that boasted higher welfare standards.

Despite the varied marketing efforts to spotlight these standards, consumer behaviour remained largely unchanged, indicating a high level of acceptance but minimal impact on purchasing decisions favouring better animal welfare.

This study sheds light on the complex relationship between consumer attitudes towards animal welfare and their behaviour in the marketplace.

While there is a vocal interest in the well-being of animals among consumers, this concern does not consistently translate into action at the checkout. The research suggests a need for deeper exploration into how animal welfare concerns can be more effectively communicated and integrated into consumer decision-making processes, bridging the gap between concern and consumption.