On-farm economic decision making related to implementation of animal welfare standards

In the last 20-30 years public concerns related to animal welfare have increased. Issues such as sustainability in animal production, implementation of housing systems and introduction of production practices which provide animals with a more comfortable life, and management of farm animals are getting more attention. Since market research have confirmed that there is a demand for animal friendly products, a few market initiatives have come into light to promote animal friendly meat products. However the expected breakthrough in actual purchasing of products with higher ethical value cannot be perceived so far. Moreover reluctance can be observed not only in purchasing, but also in production.

The scientific understanding of what inhibits the breakthrough of animal-friendly products in the market is still partial, because scientists have paid insufficient attention to integrative aspects of the demand throughthe chain. On the one hand there is a latent consumer demand, on the other hand reluctance is perceived both in purchasing and production of animal friendly products. Moving the focus toward creating differentiated product supply to cater consumer segments that have different ways of expressing morality in product choices may provide a more fruitful aspects of research. Such differentiated supply (e.g. “as a middle market segment”) can only be achieved as joint, coordinated and simultaneous action of all stakeholders, because it introduces uncertainties and mutual dependencies along the chain.

In order to address the previous concept an integrated research project has been developed under the title of “Mobilizing the latent consumer demand for animal-friendly products”. The project aims to provide stakeholders with useful information on establishing production and retail strategies. It therefore includes three PhD research focusing on (1) consumer decision-making related to animal friendly products, (2) chain-level strategies, and (3) farmers’ choice behavior related to improved on-farm animal welfare, respectively.

To create such differentiated supply knowledge on farmers’ reasoning related to the implementation of

animal friendly practices needs to be acquired. The scope of this PhD research is therefore focused on the farm level implementation of animal welfare standards. The overall research objectives are to reveal the important thresholds for implementation of animal-friendly production systems and to analyze the impact of these thresholds on farmers’ choice behavior.