Nearly 60 percent of U.S. consumers say they are more concerned about animal welfare, specifically as it relates to the food supply, than they were just a few years ago, according to a groundbreaking new report by Packaged Facts, a leading market research firm.
Most U.S. consumers believe livestock should be treated humanely and slaughtered in the least painful way possible. Key concerns include how animals are housed, fed, and handled. Antibiotic use is another top issue.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of food brands that offer:
- Cage-free and free-range eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- No-antibiotics-ever chicken
- Certified humane products
According to the Packaged Facts report, the demand for products with these kinds of credentials can only grow. “Food companies should view improvement of their animal welfare standing as an essential competitive action,” the report states.
What’s Driving Interest in Animal Welfare
Rising awareness is related to two main factors:
- Food safety and nutrition: There’s a growing belief that raising animals in healthier conditions produces a number of valuable benefits, such as improved food safety, better nutrition, and enhanced flavor.
- The role of blogging and social media: People are less trusting of conventional information sources such as the government, large corporations, and the media. At the same time, consumers are increasingly influenced by social media, bloggers, and watchdog groups. The growing concerns over animal welfare has a snowball effect: as more and more advocates share their views online, awareness continues to spread.
Vegetarians, Vegans, and Flexitarians
While many consumers express a preference for food that comes from a facility that practices humane farm animal care, others are choosing to forego meat and dairy products altogether, at least some of the time.
Vegetarians are still a small portion of the population, but a higher percentage of younger adults say they follow a vegetarian diet. In addition, the number of flexitarians, or consumers with vegetarian-leaning diets, is growing.
Consumers are increasingly choosing plant-based alternatives such as plant “milks” (soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk) and vegetarian protein sources such as tofu, nuts, and beans. They are also cutting back on red meat, dairy milk, cheese, and eggs.
Tom Hayes, the CEO of Tyson Foods Inc, the world’s largest meat producer, believes plant-based protein to be a huge opportunity. In an interview with Fox Business, he notes that the demand for plant-based protein is growing at a faster pace than the demand for animal-based protein, and that this trend may continue.
View the Full Report
To find out more information, read the entire animal welfare report, which includes analysis of a proprietary Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey of 2,000 adults in addition to other secondary data.
This report is an essential guide for retail and foodservice marketers who are interested in understanding shifting consumer attitudes, purchasing patterns, and product choice motivators.
Click the button below to view the report's abstract and learn more.
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About the Author: Sarah Schmidt is a Managing Editor at MarketResearch.com, a leading provider of global market intelligence products and services.