Public perception and poultry production

Fund

AWF Research Fund

Grant

£2,161

Research Period

2017

Area of study

Student Research

Description

SUMMARY

Poultry makes up close to half of all meat consumed in the UK and demand for poultry products is on the rise. An increase in demand can lead to changes in production to meet this demand, which bring into question issues of animal welfare.
This study set out to understand current consumer understanding of poultry production systems, including the labelling of poultry products, and public perception of factors related to poultry welfare.
Surveys were conducted outside various grocery stores across Edinburgh, UK, and a total of 152 individuals took part. The results demonstrated that whilst public knowledge of poultry production and labelling was low, the level of concern for poultry welfare was high. There appeared to be a desire to increase poultry welfare but without understanding what was needed.
This suggests more needs to be done to better inform consumers on poultry production and welfare, so that they can make more informed consumer decisions.
BACKGROUND
Poultry meat makes up close to half of all meat consumption in the UK (British Poultry Council, 2016), and demand continues to rise (DEFRA, 2016). This comes with a surge in intensive farming and pressures to increase productivity which is often negatively associated to food animal-welfare (Clark, 2016). Policy is an important method of ensuring certain standards are met within the industry. Policies can be heavily influenced by public perception of good and poor welfare but these opinions are often based on values and not necessarily science (Bock, 2013).
There are significant gaps in public knowledge of production related diseases (Clark, 2016), this study will help elucidate the extent of the publics’ current understanding of health and welfare issues within the poultry industry.
Public opinion data will be compared to available evidence from relevant UK production and welfare studies sourced from peer-reviewed journals, in addition to statistics from federal government agricultural bodies such as DEFRA and APHA.

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