Consumer Concerns about Animal Welfare and the Impact on Food Choice

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Consumer Concerns about Animal Welfare and the Impact on Food Choice

- a review of German literature -

EU FAIR-CT 98 - 3678

Germany - 1 st. Report

November 1998

Florian Köhler, Susanne Wildner

Lehrstuhl für Agrarmarketing

Prof. Dr. Reimar v. Alvensleben

Institut für Agrarökonomie

Universität zu Kiel

Olshausenstrasse 40

24098 Kiel

Tel.: 0431 880 1577

Fax: 0431 880 4414


Table of Contents

1 Introduction 2

2 Legal and cultural background 3

3 Nature and level of consumer concerns 4

3.1 Obligation towards animals 6

3.2 Husbandry practices 8

3.2.1 Specific beliefs and attitudes 8

3.2.2 Spontaneous associations 11

3.2.3 Attitudes towards political measures 12

3.3 Animal products 13

3.3.1 Deterioration of meat image 13

3.3.2 Distrust of meat 16

3.3.3 Purchase criteria 16

3.3.4 Product quality 17

3.3.5 Conjoint Analysis 19

3.3.6 Reasons for food purchase 20

3.4 Animal welfare put in perspective 23

3.4.1 Stated priorities 24

3.4.2 Topical issues 26

3.5 Knowledge 27

3.6 Animal testing 28

4 Behaviour and market 29

4.1 General consumption of animal products 29

4.2 Animal welfare concerns and consumption 30

4.3 Willingness to pay 32

4.3.1 Data generating methods 32

4.3.2 Factors affecting willingness to pay 33

4.3.3 Willingness to pay for eggs 34

4.3.4 Price versus conscience 35

4.4 Meat quality programmes 35

4.5 Information material for consumers 36

4.6 Current national policy issues 38

5 Proposed theoretical approach 39

6 Appendix: Technical presentation of surveys and studies 40

7 References 47


This national report deals with a literature review of German consumer concerns about animal welfare and the impact on food choice.

Section 1 gives an introduction into the legal and cultural history of concern about animal welfare in Germany. Section 2 is the main part of the report and elaborates on the nature and level of consumer concerns, also touched are factors affecting consumer concerns. Section 3 looks more briefly at food choice and national policy issues. Section 4 sketches out theoretical considerations and is meant to add to points already made elsewhere in the report.

2Legal and cultural background1

Human animal relations are diverse across cultures. Culture determines which animals are seen suitable for human nutrition (e.g. dogs in Asia but not in Europe anymore), how much human beings are allowed to interfere with lives of animals (e.g. Buddhism and Hinduism know absolute or relative inviolability of animals), which pets are used as animals etc. Culture is not given for all times and human animal relations change. The latter is exemplified by the fairly recent emergence of factory farming. The aim of this chapter is to give a brief summary of human animal relations and especially its legal treatment in German history.

Roman law generally exercises some influence on German law in history and is therefore not left out here. Roman law does not prevent cruelty to animals in the pre-Christian period. But in the post-Christian period animals are looked upon as subjects of the natural law, given to all creatures (WIEGAND, 1979, pp. 26-27).

During the continental mass migration parts of the Roman empire are settled by Germanic tribes coming from the East. Small Germanic nations evolve, which later form the ”Frankenreich”. "Peoples law" starts to be written in the 6th century. ”Law books” and ”city law” are known in the 12th and 13th century. No general law to protect animals is in place for medieval times. Only two single requirements, to protect nightingales from being caught and rabbits from being hunted are recorded for the city of cologne in 1417.

Canonical law and general practice allow animals to be put on trial. They are held responsible for action. Plausible seems that certain animals are seen as possessed by demons, who ultimately are responsible.

From the 17th to the 19th century it is mostly the police to interfere directly in cases of cruelty to animals. The earliest cases for courts to interfere occur in the 17th and 18th century and are not based on specific law for the protection of animals. Cruelty to animals is treated as ”de extraordinariis criminibus” and is punished as ”poena arbitraria”. Hommel (1739) is the first author of jurisprudence who seeks to have the idea of animal protection cast into formal law. He suggests humanity to have obligations towards animals even if animals do not have any legal rights.

Various societies for the protection of animals are founded in the first half of the 19th century. They follow British examples, Christian theological arguments (e.g. those of Christian Adam Dann and Dr. von Ammon) and possibly philosophical arguments of Schopenhauer. Major issues are horses as the most important means of transport and dogs used for work. Various other issues are discussed, among these ritual slaughter without stunning and vivisection. Many veterinarians serve as heads of societies, but the conflict between a scientific approach of veterinary science and the enthusiasm of activists also shows up.

By the 19th century the idea of jurisdiction gains influence. Following suit are attempts by the German States, to establish a legal basis for animal protection. The kingdom of Saxony is first to have a specific law to protect animals from cruel treatment in march 1838. It is soon followed by other German states and cities. Common punishments are imprisonment and fines. An illegal treatment of animals is mostly defined, not only to be cruel but also malicious and raising (public) annoyance. Law to protect animals in the ”Deutsches Reich”, which is founded in 1871, is largely influenced by that of the former kingdom of Prussia. Legal provisions and practices are criticised for requiring public annoyance as a prerequisite for intervention. This changes when the ”National Socialists” amend laws in May 1933 and issue the ”Reichstierschutzgesetz” in November 1933. Compared to other nations at the time, these are regarded as very animal friendly.

The German law for the protection of animals is again amended in 1972 and 1987 and the ”Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch (BGB)” in 1990. One revision of the BGB is that animals are formally no longer defined as ”objects”. However, in practice legal provisions for ”objects” still hold, as long as they do not interfere with the animal protection act. It has further been criticised, that animals are divided into two classes, depending on whether or not people develop personal ties. (BRÜNINGHAUS, 1993)

The history of German legislation with regard to animals and the animal protection movement is overshadowed by anti-human tendencies and racism: The ”National Socialists” achieve major advances for animal protection and put a relatively high priority on it. Their animal protection law is an international success and improves government’s reputation. Yet while they perceive animals to belong to the nation, they deny this right to Jews and gypsies. Furthermore, the case for protecting animals appears to be used as a weapon against, e.g. Jews. Most notably, anti-Semitic tendencies are intermingled with animal protection in the issue of ritual slaughter. While the debate is biased against Jews and gypsies from the beginning, the discussion grows more intolerant and looses scientific grounding with the turn of the century. Even the scientific community then starts to justify what is politically wanted and forgets to discuss the evidence. (BRUMME, 1991, pp. 29 – 39)

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