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Nine In Ten Consumers Support Revised Laws For Better Animal Welfare

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Nine In Ten Consumers Support Revised Laws For Better Animal Welfare

Around nine in ten European consumers would support revised laws supporting farm animal welfare, a new study by BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation has found.

The survey, which was carried out in eight EU countries, underlines the need for the European Commission to 'heed consumers’ concerns and fulfil its commitment on animal welfare, by proposing new laws and updating existing ones', the BEUC said.

The survey also found that consumers are keen to know more about how farmed animals are reared, and are looking for trustworthy labelling.

More than six in ten state that they feel they have a low level of knowledge when it comes to animal welfare practices, with consumers tending to either overestimate and underestimate welfare conditions.

Survey respondents also agree that the transition to higher farm animal welfare standards needs to be fair to both farmers and consumers.

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Key Findings

Among the key findings on the study are that close to three quarters (72%) of consumers want method of production labelling to be extended to other products beyond eggs.

Some 78% believe that imports of animal products from outside the EU should be subject to the same welfare rules as those produced in the bloc, while 74% said that they would like to see the EU provide funds to farmers to implement higher animal-welfare standards.

Consumers also have low trust in animal welfare claims by companies, and 84% said that they would 'react negatively' to welfare-washing.

While seven in ten consumers are willing to pay more for higher animal welfare standards, the amount they would be willing to pay varies – more than half would be content with paying 5% more.

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As the study found, while a large majority of consumers considers it important to improve animal welfare standards, both the EU and national governments must ensure that the costs of this transition are shared equitably.

Transition Costs

“When moving towards higher animal welfare standards, the EU and governments must ensure that the costs of this transition are equitably shared across the value chain and not borne by consumers only," Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, commented.

"Nor should farmers be the ones bearing the brunt. Most consumers would like that the EU funds farmers to improve welfare practices and agree that food imports should go by the same rules.

"Consumers need a hand so healthier food becomes the easy option. Industry, retailers and the food service sector should do more to provide consumers with a broader range of affordable, healthy and convenient plant-based options.”

The survey was conducted across Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Fieldwork occurred in November 2023, with 1,000 respondents polled per country.

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