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Ethical challenges for livestock production: meeting consumer concerns about meat safety and animal welfare

By W. A. J. Verbeke, J. Viaene

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Livestock production today faces the difficult task of effectively meeting emerging consumer concerns while remaining competitive in major target markets. Meeting consumer concerns about product safety and animal welfare are identified as key attention points for future livestock production. The relevance of these issues pertains to production efficiency and economic benefits and to re-establishing meat sector image and consumer trust. The current paper analyses consumer concerns about the ethical issues of meat safety and animal welfare from current livestock production. The research methodology is based on literature review, secondary data sources, and primary research through focus group discussions and a survey of 320 meat consumers in Belgium. Objectives were to assess importance attached by consumers to product safety and animal welfare as ethical issues in commercial livestock production, and to evaluate consumer perception of these issues for beef, pigmeat, and poultry. Significant differences in issue importance and perception are identified among consumer groups based on socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics. From the analysis, meat safety emerges as an absolute but minimum requirement for future success of livestock and meat production. Additionally, animal welfare can be expected to become a critical theme especially for pigmeat and poultry acceptance.

Date 2000
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 12
Issue 2
Pages 141-151
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1023/A:1009538613588
Language English
Author Address Ghent University, Department Agricultural Economics, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Belgium
  5. Cattle
  6. Consumers
  7. Developed countries
  8. Ethics
  9. Europe
  10. Food economics
  11. Food quality
  12. Food safety
  13. Livestock farming
  14. OECD countries
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. pork
  17. Poultry
  18. socioeconomics
  1. peer-reviewed