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Consumer Preferences in Meat and Dairy Purchasing: Animal Welfare Over Sustainability

World 21.05.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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A comprehensive study spearheaded by researchers from several European universities has revealed that animal welfare is a more significant driver than sustainability for consumers purchasing meat and dairy products.
Consumer Preferences in Meat and Dairy Purchasing: Animal Welfare Over Sustainability
This research, published in the "Food Quality and Preference" journal, involved collaboration among the universities of Portsmouth and Newcastle in the UK, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the University of Córdoba in Spain, Mendel University in the Czech Republic, and Agroscope in Switzerland.

The study surveyed 3,192 participants across five European countries, asking them to evaluate the importance of 18 different purchasing factors for meat and dairy on a scale from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important). These factors ranged from product attributes like freshness, taste, and nutrition to ethical considerations such as animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Key findings indicate that consumers consistently ranked freshness, taste/quality, and animal welfare as top priorities. In contrast, sustainability concerns such as food miles, carbon footprint, and organic certification were less influential in purchasing decisions, though sustainability labels were found to be beneficial.

Study co-author Andy Lin, a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, emphasized the intricate factors influencing consumer choices in the meat and dairy sectors. He noted that while consumers value information related to animal welfare and health, environmental sustainability remains a secondary concern.

The research advocates for enhanced labelling strategies that integrate various product attributes and suggests that mere labels might not suffice to alter consumer behavior towards sustainable choices. The findings underscore the need for policy interventions and behavioral nudges to help bridge the gap between consumer attitudes and sustainable purchasing actions.
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