Our research explored the relative importance of pig castration amongst other aspects of animal welfare, and the potential impact of information and sensory experiences on European Union (EU) consumers' preferences. The EU is considering a future ban on surgical pig castration by 2018 which may affect markets and consumers' preferences. We carried out an empirical study using consumer-level data obtained from questionnaires completed in a controlled environment by a total of 825 consumers. The experiment was carried out in six EU countries (Spain, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany) which account for 66.0% of the EU-27's and 76.3% of the EU-15's meat production. Results show that consumers do not perceive pig castration to be a relevant aspect of animal welfare nor its relationship with meat quality. Consumers with healthy life styles, concerned about animal welfare and who have had a negative sensory experience with boar meat are willing to accept paying more to avoid boar taint. (c) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.