30th March, 2017| News

Animal Welfare Day

For our business animal welfare plays a key strategic role. We were the first to establish Farm Assurance schemes for pigs across Europe and Animal Welfare continues to be central to our business. We understand and believe that there is a need to continue to improve conditions for pigs on European farms which may have traditionally seen quite different farming methods and requirements to pigs that are farmed in the UK. In terms of animal welfare, this has been a challenge but one that we are constantly rise to meet, with a range of solutions across our customer base.

Last week we hosted our second annual Animal Welfare Day, in conjunction with Bristol University and the School of Veterinary Science. We gathered together a group of retailers, academics, farmers and innovators alongside our partners who help us to deliver improved animal welfare systems. The aim of the day was to accelerate progress in animal welfare, by giving the industry access to cutting-edge research and facilitating debate and collaboration.

Consumer Attitudes to Animal Welfare

We know that consumers can sometimes feel torn between eating meat but not wanting to think about how their meat came to be sliced and packaged. The meat paradox – as it’s been termed by some – a sense of dissonance when choosing to eat meat.  So it was with some excitement that we were joined by research agency OKO at the end of the day. We recently commissioned a research project to help us understand UK consumer attitudes to animal welfare – specifically related to continental meats but with lessons for the broader industry.

[nivoslider slug=”accelerating-animal-welfare”]

The findings of their research fuelled an interesting panel discussion at the end of the day.
Our panel members were Phil Codling, Insight Director from OKO; David Houghton, Technical Director at Winterbotham Darby; Steve Wotton, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science and Dr Claire Weeks, a Senior Research Fellow in Animal Welfare – both from the University’s School of Veterinary Science.

Between them they covered issues such as:

  • How do you take the complexity of the supply chain and turn it into a binary message that helps consumers make a simple decision on Animal Welfare.
  • The challenges presented by farming methods and the different farm assurance scheme benchmarked across Europe
  • Who is responsible for providing higher welfare options – consumers, supply chain or retailers?

The debate highlighted that not only is animal welfare a complex story to explain to consumers – especially in establishing the context or functional choices for farming, but also emotive!

At present consumers are pushing responsibility for animal welfare to government and retailers as they are not being presented with clear choices. But in summary the conclusion was that EVERYONE is responsible – for demanding, providing and delivering higher welfare products. If retailers were able to provide the consumer with a choice then responsibility would sit more firmly in the lap of the consumer. And therein lies the work to be done.

The panel discussion rounded off a fascinating and insightful day and we look forward to next year’s event. For more information on our findings related to Consumer Attitudes to Animal Welfare please get in touch below.

Thanks to the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Science, Compassion in World Farming and our partners Authenticate and Kiwa, who joined us on the day and continue to support us.