Ethical Challenges for Livestock Production:Meeting Consumer Concerns about Meat Safety and AnimalWelfare

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Abstract

Livestock production today faces thedifficult task of effectively meeting emergingconsumer concerns while remaining competitive on majortarget markets. Meeting consumer concerns aboutproduct safety and animal welfare are identified askey attention points for future livestock production.The relevance of these issues pertains to productionefficiency and economic benefits and tore-establishing meat sector image and consumer trust.The current paper analyses consumer concerns about theethical issues of meat safety and animal welfare fromcurrent livestock production. The research methodologyis based on literature review, secondary data sources,and primary research through focus group discussionsand a survey of 320 meat consumers in Belgium.Objectives were to assess importance attached byconsumers to product safety and animal welfare asethical issues in commercial livestock production, andto evaluate consumer perception of these issues forbeef, pork, and poultry. Significant differences inissue importance and perception are identified amongconsumer groups based on socio-demographic andbehavioral characteristics. From the analysis, meatsafety emerges as an absolute but minimum requirementfor future success of livestock and meat production.Additionally, animal welfare can be expected to becomea critical theme especially for pork and poultryacceptance.