Consumer Concerns about Animal Welfare and the Impact on Food Choice




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3.2Husbandry practices



Husbandry practices are directly relevant to animal welfare. Perceptions of husbandry practices and animal welfare are therefore closely linked. Major public protests against factory farming in Germany began in the early seventies. Poultry keeping was of major concern to animal protectionists then. Mr. Grizmek coined the term „KZ-Hühner“8 for hens confined in cages without daylight.


To the knowledge of the authors, attitudes towards husbandry practices have not been looked at by German market research until the early eighties. Surveys covered the issue more often in the nineties. This might reflect how concerns of consumers, business and politics developed.


3.2.1Specific beliefs and attitudes



Does increasing concern mirror deteriorating husbandry practices with respect to animal welfare? This view is supported by an absolute majority of respondents in surveys of Kiel (1993) and the old counties of Germany (1997)9. Results are shown in Tab. 2.2.1 (a). In both years an absolute majority believed that “animals today are kept less appropriate than in former times”. Whether the perceptions are correct or just a romantic distortion of the past, must be left open here.


The two samples were drawn from different sample spaces. Therefore one cannot infer from the data that people in 1997 ( = sample of old counties) felt less bad about today’s agriculture than in 1993 ( = sample of medium size city Kiel). This critique should generally be kept in mind when results of surveys of different sample spaces are compared. Considering data presented in this paper, explanations other than a decline in consumer concern about animal welfare seem more likely. An alternative explanation is e.g. that rural and urban people have differing perceptions and experiences of husbandry practices.10


Husbandry practices compared over time

Statement

Agreement11

Year

Animals today are kept less “appropriate” than in former times.

77%

19931

Farm animals today are kept less “appropriate” than in former times.

60%

19972

Source: 1 INSTITUT FÜR AGRARÖKONOMIE, LEHRSTUHL FÜR AGRARMARKETING, consumer survey in Kiel (n = 533), summer 1993, unpublished results; 2 EMNID (1997), n = 1919


Factory farming („Massentierhaltung“), a term with negative connotations, is widely used to describe current husbandry practices. A clear bias in public opinion against factory farming is documented by the statements summarised in Tab. 2.2.1 (b): An overwhelming majority in 1984 and 1995 expressed moral reservations. In response to an open question in 1988 “inappropriate, unnatural” and “cruel to the animals” were the most important perceived public arguments against factory farming. Young people seem to have even stronger opinions than others: nearly 90% in a sample from 1990 regarded factory farming as “inappropriate” and thus saw animal welfare reduced. 45% of people in 1996 agreed to the statement, that factory farming is as bad as slavery.


How good is factory farming?

Statement

Agreement, stated reasons, average rating

Year

Factory farming in meat production should be rejected for ethical reasons.

5,71

19843

Factory farming in big flocks is often being criticised. Did you hear about this criticism and do you know, why factory farming is being attacked? (open question)

not heard: 6%; no answer: 1%; heard, but do not know why: 5%; other items (not listed on the right): 11%

inappropriate, unnatural,...: 59%;

cruel: 48%;

hormone scandal: 22%; poor quality: 14%; environment: 4%; bad taste: 3%

19884

(Is factory farming “appropriate”?) agreement (disagreement) ((could be either))

7% (87%) ((2%))

19915

It is true that factory farming is immoral.

71%

19956

Factory farming is like slavery in former times.

45% (3,22)

19967

1 average rating on a scale from 1 (= I don’t agree at all) to 7 (= I absolutely agree); 2 average rating on a scale from 1 (= I don’t agree at all) to 5 (= I absolutely agree)

Source: 3 ALTMANN, ALVENSLEBEN, (1986), p. 66, survey at Hannover, Lingen and Meppen, 1984, n = 2000 4ALVENSLEBEN/STEFFENS (1988), telephone survey at Hannover, n = 422; 5 KÜHNLE/MÜHLBAUER (1992), n = 715, young people aged 14 - 28; 6 FORSA cited in STERN, 46/95, p. 110; 7 SAMPLE-Institute (1994), n = 1300


Concern about animal welfare dominates attitudes about factory farming and large flocks, which in 1994 are not seen necessary to supply (inexpensive) animal products (see Tab. 2.2.1 (c)). At the same time self-interest is seen threatened: 64% of respondents in a survey in 1997 saw a link between poor animal welfare and BSE.


Means and ends (see also chapter 3.2)

Statement

Agreement, average rating

Year

Modern husbandry in large flocks is important to supply people with inexpensive meat.

3,7

19941

Only by factory farming can the supply of animal food be guaranteed.

27% (2,5*)

19942

Do you agree or not, that animal diseases like BSE would not have occurred, if one had better ensured appropriate husbandry.

agree: 64%

disagree: 22%

19973

average rating on a scale from 1 (= I absolutely agree) to 5 (= I don’t agree at all); * average rating on a scale from 1 (= I don’t agree at all) to 5 (= I absolutely agree)

Source: 1 ALVENSLEBEN (1994), p. 149, n = 388, Kiel; 2 SAMPLE INSTITUTE (1994), n = 1300; 3 NOELLE-NEUMANN, KÖCHER (1997), p. 1087



The German term “Massentierhaltung”12 implies that flock size is a critical point about modern farming. Views, however, are complex: a relative majority of 44% in 1997 did not see large flocks as a sufficient condition for poor animal welfare. Size nevertheless is an important point of criticism, as is established by other findings summarised in Tab. 2.2.1 (d). Interviewees admitted to „dislike growing size of flocks” in Kiel, 1994. EMNID (1992, 1997) suggest that criticism of large flock sizes increased in the nineties.


Views seem less clear in response to a more complex question posed by EMNID in 1982: „How should farmers act in order to supply food at acceptable prices and at the same time not pollute the environment or threaten human health etc.?“13 57% of the sample then suggested to keep large flocks. On the other hand, 80% wanted “lots of small family farms” and only 18% suggested “few industrially organised big farms”.


How large are flocks? (When) Are flocks too large?

Statement

Agreement, average rating

Year

Assume that flocks of more than 600 pigs can be called factory farming. Do you reckon that the majority of pigs in the FRG are kept in (a) such large flocks or (b) rather smaller ones?

(a) 60%

(b) 24%

19882

I dislike that animals in today’s agriculture are kept in larger and larger flocks.

1,7*

19943

The reproach against large flocks is largely exaggerated since most German farmers have rather small flocks.

50%

28%

19924

19955

Reproaches against large flocks are basically not justified since most German farmers have rather small flocks.

35%

19976

Animals can’t be kept “appropriately” in large flocks.

30%

19976

Even in large flocks can animals be “appropriately” kept.

44%

19976

* average rating on a scale from 1 (= I absolutely agree) to 5 (= I don’t agree at all)

Source: 2 ALVENSLEBEN/STEFFENS (1988), telephone survey at Hannover, n = 422; 3 ALVENSLEBEN (1994), p. 149, n = 388, Kiel; 4 EMNID (1992); n = 2058; 5 ALVENSLEBEN/MAHLAU (1996); 6 EMNID (1997), n = 1919



Fig. 2.2.1 shows which size of flocks for pigs and cattle is presumed too large in 1992 and 1997. People admit to slightly larger flocks for pigs than for cattle. Furthermore; it is suggested here, that criticism of large flocks increased more for cattle than for pigs. Yet, public perception seems quite in contrast to actual needs, since cattle prefer larger flocks more than pigs (given enough space).


Beyond which size are flocks presumed too large?


Source: EMNID (1992), n = 2058, EMNID (1997), n = 1919, representative samples of adult German population older than 14.



Poultry keeping has been a major subject in the German debate over intensive animal farming from the beginning. The earliest survey results are available for 1983, when people overwhelmingly agreed battery farming to be inferior to barn keeping in terms of animal health (Tab. 2.2.1 (e)). At the same time battery systems were supposed to be superior in productivity and hygiene. Fifteen years later, respondents in a survey of Kiel nearly unanimously believed hens on battery farms to suffer and to be permanently injured. The high degree of unanimity might be due to scandals over the large scale poultry farmer Anton Pohlmann. These received a lot of media attention in Germany after 1994.


Poultry keeping

Statement

Agreement, average rating

Year

Laying hens perform better in: - battery systems

- barn systems

- no difference

38%,

27%

12%

19831

Animal health is better guaranteed in: - battery systems

- barn systems

- no difference

6%

85%

2%

19831

Hygiene is better ensured in: - battery systems

- barn systems

- no difference

43%

25%

27%

19831

Battery systems do permanently injure hens.

96% (1,2*)

19962

Battery hens do suffer a lot the way they are kept.

95% (1,3*)

19962

Battery hens do not fare as badly as always said.

4% (4,5*)

19962

* average rating on a scale from 1 (= I absolutely agree) to 5 (= I don’t agree at all)

Sources: 1 INSTITUT FÜR AGRARÖKONOMIE, LEHRSTUHL FÜR AGRARMARKETING, consumer survey in Kiel (n = 193), summer 1996, unpublished results; 2 HARRIS (1996), p. 157, n = 121



3.2.2Spontaneous associations14



A qualitative study conducted at Kiel by SIES (1997) (n = 30) employed various association-tests15 to assess people’s attitudes, thoughts and feelings undistorted of social answering effects (see also SIES/MAHLAU, 1997). The sample was selected to present a good variety of people.


People came up with only three positive associations in response to the neutral catchword “animal husbandry”. 40 out of 60 possible answers were clearly negative (Tab. 2.2.2). Nearly all of the negative associations were related to aspects of animal welfare. Results for the neutral catchword “poultry keeping” are similar. In a further test people were given two pictures, one showing crammed pig pens, another cows on a pasture (see the appendix). These results, too, indicate public disapproval of factory farming - not only rationally but also emotionally.


Free associations: answers to the stimulus “animal husbandry”

Positive associations (3)

Neutral associations (17)

Negative associations (40)

free-range, happy hens (2) - keeping animals free-range

Hopefully “appropriate” – should be kept naturally – breeding beasts - hens - cows (4) – cows on a pasture – keeping dairy cows – rearing cows and pigs - pigs (2) - geese - stable - - -fertiliser - - - there are good and bad aspects to it

exploitation – factory farming (9) - keeping masses - mass-production – animal factories - cows side by side in giant sheds - too small stables - too confined - confined - - - not “appropriate” (3) - rarely “appropriate” (2) - natural animal husbandry rather rare - - - too many medical drugs - animals stuffed with drugs - too much concentrated feed stuff – unhealthy - - - pity for the animals - cruel these days – nowadays often terrible - cruel to animals (2) - unworthy of the animals - - - ill animals - hospitalism - animals bitten to death – fidgeting hens - squeaking pigs in a lorry - - - stench – utmost precaution

Source: SIES/MAHLAU (1997), p. 15 (results); numbers in brackets refer to how frequently items were mentioned



3.2.3Attitudes towards political measures



The bad image of factory farming and concern about animal welfare is directly reflected in an overwhelming support for the prohibition of factory farming in 1990 and 1992 (Tab. 2.2.3). Consumers of organically produced meat even almost unanimously support prohibition. This reflects how strong feelings are.


Results do not imply precise policy recommendations. Besides possible social response effects, trade-offs with other issues are neglected. Trade-offs might be important as suggested by a survey of Kiel in 1996 when respondents ranked eight out of ten political issues to be more important than animal welfare (compare section 2.4.1). Furthermore, since only fairly general political attitudes were measured in Tab. 2.2.3, the correlation with concrete political action, like voting, is likely to be low. This is suggested by the compatibility principle (AJZEN, 1988 and AJZEN, FISHBEIN, 1977 quoted in EAST 1997).


“Stricter surveillance of husbandry practices, animal transport, ...” and “compulsory labelling of battery eggs” receive only little less support than “prohibition”. This again indicates that people strongly feel “something ought to be done” rather than suggest a specific policy measure. At least it has so far not been strictly established, which of various policy options people prefer.


Attitude towards political measures

Statement

agreement/

affirmation

year

Depending on the type of question between 67% and 79% of respondents supported a prohibition of hormones in the production of beef and veal. They spontaneously come up with the following reasons: health concerns: 74%; not appropriate, unnatural, etc.: 39%; feeling uneasy: 24%; general attitude against hormones and chemical additives: 19%; distrust in science: 8%; cruel to animals: 5%; else: 12%

19885

Depending on the type of question between 77% and 83% of respondents supported a prohibition of hormones in the production of milk. They spontaneously come up with the following reasons: there is too much milk anyway: 56%; health concerns: 38%; not appropriate, unnatural: 37%; feeling uneasy: 14%; general attitude against hormones and chemical additives: 10%; more farmers would have to give up: 8%; cruel to animals: 7%; distrust in science: 3%; else: 7%

19885

Should or shouldn’t certain forms of factory farming, e.g. batteries for hens be prohibited?

85% (should)

6% (shouldn’t)

19904

Most important reasons for wanting to have factory farming prohibited (given categories): “it is cruel to the animals”: 94%; “the animals illegally get given substances like hormones”: 77%; “the animals are fed with too many medical drugs”: 69%; “it threatens subsistence of small farmers”: 47%.4

19904

Factory farming should be prohibited. (consumers (non consumers) of organic meat)

98% (81%)

19921

Husbandry, animal transport and the production of meat and sausages should be put under stricter surveillance.

79%

19942

At present in this country, there is no legal requirement for eggs produced from battery farming to be labelled as “battery” eggs. To what extent do you agree or disagree that eggs produced under battery conditions should be labelled as “battery” eggs?

79%

19983

Sources: 1 HEILMEIER (1992), n = 174, customers of butcheries and retailers in (equally divided between the two groups) Landsham, Kirchheim, Gräfelfing; 2 FORSA, quoted in: Die Fleischerei, 9/1994, p. 92; 3 EMNID (1998), n = 1031; 4NOELLE-NEUMANN, KÖCHER(1993), interviews held in 1990, old counties, people older than 15; 5ALVENSLEBEN/STEFFENS (1988), telephone survey at Hannover, n = 422.



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