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EU survey reveals consumers willing to pay more for better animal welfare
Commission Européenne - IP/05/698 08/06/2005
Brussels, 8 June 2005
European consumers are willing to pay more for animal welfare-friendly food products but want such products to be easier to identify, according to an EU-wide opinion survey published today. The Eurobarometer survey on consumer attitudes to the welfare of farmed animals will be presented by EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou to MEPs today. The survey shows that 74% of consumers believe they can improve animal welfare through their shopping choices, and 57% are willing to pay more for animal welfare-friendly food products. The poll also reveals consumer concern that such products are difficult to identify.
Commissioner Kyprianou commented: “European consumers clearly care about animal welfare and want to make informed purchasing choices. Yet they feel hampered by a lack of information on which products are produced in an animal welfare friendly way. The Commission now intends to study how this can be done through new initiatives on labelling. The results of the survey also support the Commission’s recent proposal on the welfare of broilers and will feed into our upcoming Action Plan on Animal Welfare.”
The themes addressed in the survey are consumer attitudes to the welfare of farmed animals, the influence of this on their food purchases and their perceptions of how animal welfare is dealt with at the EU level.
According to the survey, consumers are very confident of their ability to improve animal welfare by purchasing animal welfare friendly products: 74% agree that this could result in better animal welfare while 19% do not. As an example, 57% of consumers would be willing to pay an additional price premium for eggs sourced from more welfare friendly production systems, while 34% would not.
However, it is also clear that consumer choice is hampered by insufficiently clear food labelling: 32% of consumers could never identify such welfare-friendly food products (ranging up to 70% in some countries, particularly in the new Member States), while 19% could identify such products only very rarely. Consumers generally believe that insufficient weight is given to animal welfare in their countries’ agricultural policies: only 7% of respondents believed it was given too much importance.
There are also important variations in consumer attitudes in different EU regions. Consumers having visited a farm are more likely to take an interest in animal welfare issues and are also more likely to be able to identify products produced in a welfare-friendly way. The survey results show that consumers are particularly concerned about the welfare of chickens, both laying hens and chickens kept for meat production (broilers). This finding supports the Commission’s recent proposal on the welfare of broilers (see IP/05/637).
This Eurobarometer opinion survey was carried out for the European Commission in February-March 2005 with an average of 1,000 respondents surveyed in each of the 25 EU Member States. A follow-up survey is planned to investigate consumer attitudes further and to extend the survey’s scope to other countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
See also MEMO/05/198.