Animal welfare a ‘growing consideration’ for consumers

The recent loss of stock on the Teagasc Greenfield Dairy Farm saw many farmers take to Twitter to highlight the issue of animal welfare.

Good animal welfare is an increasingy critical consideration for consumers, according to Mark Zieg, meat production sector manager, Bord Bia.

“Good welfare is an increasingly important requirement coming from the marketplace and is something that we track across a range of markets in our insights work, which then feeds into our promotional approach,” he said.

Netherlands

“We see this requirement across a range of our markets but a good example of this is in the Netherlands,” he said.

Here, there has been a growing demand from retail and food service trade customers for meat displaying good animal welfare practices.

The demand from the Dutch trade is coming from a few different angles.

“Number one is a growing voice from NGO groups and from the political side, followed by an interest and a desire for reassurance coming from consumers.

“It is important to understand consumers’ motivation on welfare – which stems from a desire for safe, healthy and tasty food and an understanding that meat from animals that have been treated well will be both more healthy and tasty,” said the Bord Bia manager.

“It is also important to recognise that in our consumer surveys, while animal welfare is mentioned in the aspects considered in buying meat, it ranks as the ninth most important factor after things like: price; best-before date; appearance; and quality.

“This weighting is also consistent with responses from other markets,” he said.

On the basis of extensive insight work carried out in the Dutch market, Bord Bia has been promoting Irish beef there under the heading ‘Honest by Nature.’

The campaign features Irish farmers talking about the care they take with their animals, featuring imagery focusing on the welfare benefits of cattle raised predominately outdoors at grass.

This is underlined by the Sustainable Beef Assurance Scheme which includes comprehensive animal welfare and stockmanship requirements.