Consumer labelling for animal welfare
By Ingemar Pongratz
Sustainable food production is a key issue for European consumers today. Responsible, safe and ethical production methods are demanded by consumers in Europe today who expect that food should be both nutritious, healthy and safe.
In addition, societal concerns for the climate and the environment put additional demands on the producers who are expected to follow strict ethical guidelines for food production. A Dutch survey shows that between 70 to 85% of consumers in different EU member states agree that ethical food production and that animal welfare are important.
Studies have shown that consumers are increasingly willing to support ethical animal production. However, there is a lack among consumers of what ethical animal production is about. There is for example a feeling among consumers that small scale production is often accompanied with ethical production, a feeling that is not always correct. It is therefore important to empower the consumer to make informed decisions when purchasing food. Consumer labelling for animal welfare is an important tool for this objective.
This has however been a problem for a long time in Europe. Food labelling is an area that has been very difficult agree upon. In 2020 the European Commission responded to a question regarding animal welfare. The Commission stated that animal welfare is part of the Farm to Fork strategy. The issue of animal welfare labelling is the European Commission agenda, and there are plans to include topics in the coming Horizon Europe Research and Innovation scheme. These topics would address both the need to develop robust communication strategies to inform consumers regarding animal welfare. These strategies should be valid across the EU.
In short, we should not expect a rapid EU wide labelling scheme in the immediate future.
The lack of a common European labelling system approved by the European Union. This drawback has left the field open to “alternative” strategies. Most of the labelling schemes are at best national. Some labelling schemes are launched by individual chains.
These approaches which include retail stores demonstrates the urgent need to a robust labelling system in Europe. Ethical food production is a key market argument for producers and for the retail industry as well.
It is thus important to develop a working European approach as soon as possible.
Ingemar Pongratz is a researcher / entrepreneur that has established Fenix Scientic AB / Pongratz Consulting. Through Pongratz Consulting, we help universities and enterprises to apply for European public funding schemes such as the coming Horizon Europe research and innovation scheme. In addition, Ingemar Pongratz is cofounder of Letavis AB, an research intensive enterprise that is developing products and services to promote health and well-being in the animal sector. Please contact us through the online contact form if you wish to discuss collaboration or if you require our professional support for project development.