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Australians clearly care about animal welfare: our research has found 92% shoppers in Sydney considered animal welfare to be important.
However, when we look at the distribution of market share of so-called high-welfare foods in Australia, we get a varied picture. Aussie shoppers seem to care far more about free-range eggs than the living conditions of pigs, cows and broilers (meat poultry).
Free-range - Eggs - % - Eggs - Australia
Free-range eggs now account for more than 40% of all eggs sold in Australia. This contrasts with only a 14% market share for free-range poultry and even less for pork, with only 5% coming from pigs raised outdoors.
Modern Australians are far removed from the production of their food. Around 95% of meat chickens and pigs eaten in Australia live on intensive farms, where huge numbers of animals are kept in small enclosed areas. This means we are largely divorced from the price animals pay in becoming our food.
Welfare - Animals - Foods - Animals - Eggs
If we care about the welfare of the animals we eat, why don't we buy foods that come from animals that were treated well? And why are we buying eggs that reflect higher welfare but not other animal-based foods?
This incongruence is an example of what is referred to as the attitude-behaviour gap, or the disparity between what we say and what we do. Many of us love animals, but buy the cheapest meat at the supermarket. This may be simply because all the different labels about welfare standards are too confusing, or it might be a consequence of the considerable price disparity.
Researcher - Shoppers - Free-range - Answers - Idea
We also know when a researcher asks shoppers if they'd pay more for free-range, she may receive disingenuous answers. We often like the idea we'll do the "right" thing, and until we're forced to put our money where our mouth is, it costs nothing to say we would behave honourably.
Even with the...
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