About half of U.S. consumers are satisfied that animals raised for food are treated appropriately under current practices and regulations, and only one in five either somewhat or strongly disagree that food animals are treated appropriately. Nonetheless, well over half of U.S. consumers 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 report released by Packaged Facts, New York.

In this report, “Animal Welfare: Issues and Opportunities in the Meat, Poultry, and Egg Markets in the U.S.,” Packaged Facts charts the new challenges and opportunities for retail marketers of meat, poultry, eggs and related products and menu items. These opportunities include:

  • Marketing on animal welfare-related practices;
  • Shoring up product claims and terminology;
  • Leveraging the links between animal welfare and product healthfulness, safety, clean label and sustainability;
  • Catering to the flexitarian trend; and
  • Seizing M&A and institutional investor opportunities based on progressive commitment to food animal welfare.

Marketplace analysis draws heavily on proprietary Packaged Facts survey data on consumer attitudes, purchasing patterns and product choice motivators. Importantly, the rising interest in animal welfare is in part an outgrowth of increased concerns about the safety of the food supply, and a growing conviction that food animals raised in healthier circumstances will yield meat, poultry and dairy-case products that are higher quality across the board.

U.S. consumers have many concerns about how farm animals are being raised, including handling (and slaughtering), housing, feeding and antibiotic use. Correspondingly, the number of companies engaging in animal welfare advances and announcing plans to meet new standards has reached critical mass. Food companies at every level of the production and delivery spectrum are taking significant steps to improve the quality of life of the animals in their supply chains. In addition to humanitarian concerns, corporate decisions to engage progressively in animal welfare issues is grounded in the mandate to be competitive in a changing marketplace and among a new generation of Millennial and Gen Z consumers. 

The report examines marketing and product opportunities for retail and foodservice marketers stemming from changing consumer attitudes and escalating concerns about food animal welfare. The report also examines the role of federal and state government agencies in setting animal welfare guidelines and the increasing role of animal welfare organizations, especially those that offer certification to animal protein marketers. The analysis draws on proprietary Packaged Facts consumer data gathered through a national consumer survey of 2,000 adults conducted in February-March, along with Simmons Research, New York, and other syndicated and industry data. Information on company activities around food animal welfare, as well as related activities of government and non-governmental organizations, was gathered from an in-depth review of corporate, trade and government websites, food industry media and other sources.