There is a growing concern among a majority of U.S. consumers about the health and well-being of animals being raised to be food. For its new report, AnimalWelfare: Issues and Opportunities in the Meat, Poultry, and Egg Markets in the U.S., Packaged Facts’ conducted an online survey that found that nearly 60% of consumers say they are more concerned today than they were a few years ago about the treatment of animals raised for food.
The rising interest in animal welfare appears to be an outgrowth of consumers’increased concerns about the safety of the food supply with a growing belief, supported by several studies, that if the animals are raised in healthier circumstances the meat and dairy products produced from their will be safer and healthier. The Packaged Facts’ survey found that over 70% of consumers believe that agricultural products are healthier if grown more naturally.
Food companies at every level of the production and delivery spectrum, aware of both consumer and investor concerns, have been taking steps to improve the quality of life of the animals in their supply chains. The decision by individual companies to improve animal welfare is often grounded in the desire to both be competitive and to appear competitive.
There are many areas in the way that farm animals being raised for food are treat about which activists and consumers alike have concerns. The four areas which are of highest concern to consumers with an interest in animal welfare are handling (including slaughtering), housing, food and water, and antibiotic use.
It is apparent from the number of companies that are engaged in animal welfare practices or that have announced their plans to begin doing so that the food industry has passed a tipping point in its relationship with the animal welfare movement. The pace appears to be escalating although there is no guarantee that there may not be a slowdown coming as the more difficult decisions will need to be made.
Animal Welfare: Issues and Opportunities in the Meat, Poultry, and Egg Markets in the U.S. examines consumer attitudes and concerns about animal welfare and the many specific steps that food industry participants are taking to address these concerns. It also examines the role of federal and state government agencies in setting animal welfare guidelines and the increasingly impactful part played by animal welfare organizations, specifically those that offer certification to the food companies.