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Little is known about individual consumer’s behaviour with regard to products respecting high standards of animal welfare in Germany. Attitudes have been better looked at.
We know of only three studies in German language, which to some degree use observational data for peoples behaviour towards aspects of animal welfare (HARIS, 1986; DIEKMANN; 1998; BADERTSCHER FAWAZ, JÖRIN, RIEDER, 1998). Two were conducted in Switzerland. Two obtained data via field experiments and one used panel data to some degree. The only German study by HARIS (1986) is discussed elsewhere in this paper.
Some very preliminary data are available from consumer surveys. In 1994 NIELSEN looked at peoples responses to the statement ”I only buy meat from animals which have been appropriately kept”. Responses were rather ambivalent.35 A less demanding question was asked by FORSA in 1997: 74% then stated to have already bought foodstuffs from appropriate keeping, 11% said to intend to buy them in future. Only 9% did not want to buy them. BALSER (1994) emphasises that people’s self-reported buying behaviour is very much exaggerated in a survey conducted by SAMPLE-INSTITUTE (1994). She suggests this to be due to misleading advertising information (especially for eggs and poultry), lack of relevant knowledge and social answering. Self-reported behaviour seems to be a bad predictor for actual behaviour.
Are attitudes about animal welfare relevant for purchase behaviour? ALVENSLEBEN (1997) looks at attitude-behaviour relations for meat. He evaluates a consumer survey of Kiel, 1994 (n= 388). 17 statements to be rated were included in the survey. A factor analysis was conducted which reduced the statements to two attitude dimensions (factors). The factor „preference“ comprised statements like „I like to eat meat“ (0.8836). Statements related to an issues about animal welfare loaded most on the factor „confidence“: „I dislike that animals in our farms are held in bigger and bigger flocks“ (-0.49), „I think, newspapers and TV should report on our livestock production much more critically“ (-0.49), „Modern livestock production in big flocks is important to supply the population with meat at reasonable prices“ (0.46).37 Self-reported consumption frequency was measured on a seven-step-scale from „never“ to „daily“. In a multiple regression analysis factor scores for „preference“ and „confidence“ were used as independent variables to predict the dependent variable „intensity of consumption“. Only 20% of the total explained variance was attributed to the factor „confidence“ and 80% to „preference“.
KAFKA/ALVENSLEBEN (1997) analyse data from a survey of Kiel in summer 1997 (n = 332). Statements related to animal welfare were not included in the construction of „concern“ but had most likely have loaded on it. They distinguish two types of behaviour „changes in meat consumption“ and „absolute frequency of meat consumption“. They find a clear impact of concern on changes in consumption but only a minor impact on the absolute frequency and doubt whether stated changes in consumption reflect actual behaviour.
FAWAZ/JÖRIN/RIEDER (1998) evaluate survey data for panel participants in Switzerland. They too conclude that attitudes on animal welfare have little impact on the absolute level of meat consumption. Attitudes have a comparatively larger impact on changes in meat consumption and on the decision to buy meat from appropriate keeping.
Some research in Germany has been conducted on environmental attitudes and behaviour. Researchers in this field are now beginning to deplore, that they hardly know enough about peoples actual behaviour. Various researchers see this as a future challenge and believe it to promise substantial rewards (Schupp/Wagner, 1998). Observational data are generally seen as the preferred choice. They have the advantage not to be distorted by social answering and limited memory. They also avoid the drawback of self-reported data, which are likely to be biased towards reducing discrepancies between (stated) opinions and behaviour.
Data on consumption exist for various animal products in Germany but not for products respecting high levels of animal welfare. The nineties saw a decline in net-consumption of pork, beef, egg and general meat. This trend was opposed by an increase in poultry consumption. Saturation is a common in the German meat sector.
One area of consumer behaviour has received more attention in the available literature on consumer concerns about animal welfare. It is that of people’s willingness to pay, to be looked at next.
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