Animal-welfare coverage hurts meat demand

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHNIGTON – Media attention to animal welfare has significant, negative effects on U.S. meat demand, according to a study by Kansas State University. The study’s results are based on an extensive search of top U.S. newspapers and magazines used to develop indices reflecting public information on animal welfare that U.S. consumers received from 1982 to 2008.

These media indices were then incorporated into a meat-demand system to estimate the effect of animal welfare information published by U.S. media sources on exercised beef, pork, poultry and non-meat food demand of the typical U.S. consumer for the period 1982 – 2008.

The most direct effects of media attention were primarily associated with pork and poultry demand, but researchers stressed the beef industry is not immune.

“This study found increased media attention caused a reallocation of expenditures to nonmeat food rather than reallocating expenditure across competing meat products,” the report states. “Accordingly, all three evaluated livestock and meat industries stand to lose if total meat expenditure is reduced as consumers obtain increasing amounts of media information regarding animal well-being and handling issues.”

Although this study provides the first assessment of how media attention on animal welfare information influences consumer meat purchases, much additional research is needed, the researchers noted.

“This study supports this and related evaluations to improve the understanding of how increasing pressure to adjust on-farm practices to reflect societal pressures regarding animal well-being is economically impacting market participants throughout the livestock and meat-supply chain,” the report concludes.

To read the entire report, visit http://www.agmanager.info/livestock/marketing/AnimalWelfare/MF2951.pdf.
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