Animal welfare top priority for consumers

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers claim that meat sourced from well-looked-after animals is a top issue that makes a food company ethical, according to Mintel. 

Of the 1,500 UK consumers who took part in the study, 60% recognised as important a company that can guarantee the ingredients used in its products are responsibly sourced, while 57% claimed good worker welfare to be the main factor when it came to ethical food companies.

“The fact that animal welfare ranks as the top ethical concern adds credence to the suggestion that Britain is a nation of animal-lovers,” explained Richard Ford, senior food analyst at Mintel.

Seventy-two per cent of consumers expected food products to meet ethical standards without having to pay more, according to the research. Furthermore, over half (52%) stated that they would cease buying products from a company if it were found to be acting unethically.

“Ethics is becoming ever more ingrained into food and drink operators’ sourcing policies, but it is a complex area which is important to get right. That so many consumers would stop buying from a company acting unethically highlights that operators must ensure their operating standards are not just legally, but also ethically robust, or risk boycotts and reputational damage. Social media means that any accusation of unethical practice can spread fast.”

Just over half admitted they would pay more for ethical foods if they understood where the extra money was spent, with the same proportion (52%) saying they found information surrounding ethically sourced food confusing.

Ford continued: “Not only do consumers expect good ethical practices from operators, they also expect to be informed and reassured over why they’re paying extra and where the money is going. Cost remains a key barrier for many buying into ethical food and drink products.”

Meanwhile, only 17% believed that meat produced in a production facility was a solution to helping feed the world.

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