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The role of quality labels in market-driven animal welfare

By L. R. Heerwagen, M. R. Morkbak, S. Denver, P. Sandoe, T. Christensen

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In policy-making the consumption of specially labelled products, and its role in improving the welfare of livestock, has attracted considerable attention. There is in many countries a diverse market for animal welfare-friendly products which is potentially confusing and may lack transparency. We ask whether special quality labels that involve medium levels of animal welfare, as compared with labels promoting premium levels of animal welfare, have a role to play in promoting improvements in animal welfare. The Danish pork market is our reference case, but we also widen the context by comparing the markets for pork in three other European countries. Our findings suggest that in order to improve animal welfare through demand for welfare-friendly products it is important to maintain separate the market for products with strong animal welfare profiles from markets for products with medium levels of animal welfare where, often, animal welfare is bundled together with other food quality attributes. We conclude that such quality labels may indeed play an important role in promoting higher animal welfare standards provided that they offer real improvements in animal welfare as compared with standard products. They will be attractive to consumers with a positive, but not especially strong interest in animal welfare as an individual food attribute who would otherwise be inclined to purchase standard products.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 67-84
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Publisher Springer
DOI 10.1007/s10806-014-9521-z
Language English
Author Address Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 25, 1958 Frederiksberg C,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Case Report
  4. Consumers
  5. Contamination
  6. Demand
  7. Denmark
  8. Developed countries
  9. Distribution
  10. Economics
  11. Europe
  12. Food economics
  13. Food policy
  14. Food quality
  15. Food safety
  16. Marketing
  17. Markets
  18. Meat production
  19. OECD countries
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. Policy and Planning
  22. pork
  23. quality labelling
  24. residues
  25. Scandinavia
  26. standards
  1. peer-reviewed