When purchasing pork, consumers are very interested in information about the individual farm where the pigs were kept and they are willing to pay more for this information. These were the findings of research by Wageningen Economic Research that was conducted among consumers in the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Consumers primarily want information on the way in which the pigs are kept.
More than half of Dutch consumers choose products with source information and a higher price tag. This has been researched for ground pork, pork chops, and pork tenderloin. German and English consumers also have roughly the same willingness to pay, while the indication that the product comes from the Netherlands appears to lower the willingness somewhat for Germans and Brits. That willingness to pay amounts to around 13 eurocents per kilogram of pork, which is roughly equal to the additional costs that are incurred by the supply chain in order to be able to guarantee that the meat was sourced from the individual farms. The results are solid: the need for information and willingness to pay are not related to incidents, specifically those with pigs in this instance. Consumers largely find information about animal welfare and health to be important. Information on origin and environment scored lower. Consumers have little interest in how pigs are transported or slaughtered.
Communicating sourcing information
The sourcing information can best be communicated on the product or at the place where it is purchased. Working with a QR code or an app scored low with consumers in all three of the countries that were researched. Also, few consumers actually made the effort to seek out the information on the website provided. However, consumers do appreciate that the option is offered. This apparently gives consumers enough confidence for them not to actually seek out the information. For Dutch consumers, the image of the store itself and a logo on the packaging increase the willingness to pay more. If the consumer feels that they are a price-conscious buyer, then the willingness to pay more for sourcing information decreases.
Transparancy in the supply chain
The pork supply chain wants to foster a positive image and confidence in consumers by operating in a responsible and careful manner, securing its working methods, and proactively informing consumers. This is in line with what a large segment of consumers feels must be ensured and properly handled. The supply chain parties consider direct contact between consumers and pig farmers on open days and in viewing stables to be the most suitable format for sharing information on the ins and outs of pig farms and the supply chain. The drawback is that the number of consumers who are reached is limited. Supply chain parties also recognise the potential drawbacks of greater transparency, such as individual business owners becoming the targets of protest groups.
Background of the study
The research was commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality (formerly the Ministry of Economic Affairs). The study consists of four components:
- An analysis of the AH/VION practical testing with sourcing information
- Interviews with the links in the pork supply chain regarding various levels of sourcing identification for the pork product
- An online survey of Dutch consumers regarding sourcing information and other forms of transparency as well as the format in which the information is provided
- An online survey of Dutch, German, and English consumers regarding the willingness to pay for sourcing information on the pork product
The results of all components will be published in individual, partial reports.