Growing demand for organic and antibiotic free food amongst Irish consumers, says new Teagasc study
Organic food with high animal welfare standards and no hormones or antibiotics are growing demands amongst Irish consumers, according to a new Teagasc study.
The study, which was published in the Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research has highlighted how consumer perceptions are becoming increasingly sensitive to how animals are produced.
In the past, perceptions of meat quality have largely been influenced by factors such as the appearance of meat or the country of origin of the meat product. Now, however, other factors are becoming increasingly important in also determining consumers’ judgements.
Factors such as: how animals are reared (e.g. organic and free-range farming) and how animals are farmed (e.g. animal welfare, hormone and antibiotic usage) are important in determining consumers’ perceptions of the quality of the meat produced.
As part of a wider international study into meat consumer trends, 251 consumers across the Republic of Ireland were surveyed about their habits, behaviours, beliefs and perceptions when it comes to purchasing and consuming meat.
Consumers in this study were asked about the relationship between meat quality and four different farm-level production practices: organic farming, free range farming, maintaining high animal welfare standards, and keeping animals free from hormone/antibiotic treatment.
The study also found that not only do a significant number of consumers perceive better quality meat when assured of humane animal treatment, a sizeable number also reveal an intention to pay more for meat produced with good animal welfare standards.
This indicates that consumers are not just supportive of animal welfare from a ‘concerned citizen’ perspective; rather, they consider these dimensions as attractive product attributes that influence their assessments of meat quality and are likely to influence their purchasing decisions.