Consumers will pay more for higher welfare meat

Meat can be sold for a higher price if consumers think it is farmed to a higher welfare standard, according to new research.

Recent research carried out at the University of Reading suggested people are willing to pay more for even a “slight improvement” in the welfare of the animals they are eating. The research also showed that consumers favoured the welfare of cows and chickens more than pigs.

Agricultural economist and advisor to the UK government on animal welfare issues professor Richard Bennett led the research. Bennett said he planned to asses how much people in the UK wanted to improve farm animal welfare.

He said: "We kill more than 2m cattle, 9m pigs and almost 800m chickens a year in the UK to feed our demand for meat. With better understanding of animal behaviour, we can accurately measure the welfare of an individual animal in terms of its freedom from hunger, thirst, pain, injury, fear, and its ability to express normal behaviour - in short, what makes animals happy on a 0-100 scale.”

The research showed that people are interested in the welfare of animals bred for meat. Consumers were so interested in animal welfare that they were willing to pay more annually for even a “one-point increase in the happiness scale of the animals they eat”.

Also highlighted in the research was the fact that consumers were willing to pay an extra £5.24, £5.10 and £4.57 a year to improve the welfare of cattle, chickens and pigs retrospectively.

Bennett added: “We hope that our approach will be able to support future policy decisions on farm animal welfare by explicitly showing the value people attribute to the welfare of farm animals.”

Related news:

>NFU welcomes EU animal welfare resolution

>New study published on male pig health

>Higher-welfare meat more nutritious, says report


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