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WelSure Project

Factors Influencing Consumer Purchase of Higher Welfare Assured Pig Meat Products in Ireland and the UK

Project Summary

There is evidence consumers are becoming more conscious of the welfare of farmed animals and how meat products are produced. Several European countries have introduced farm animal welfare oriented schemes and certification labels to assure concerned consumers. This Master’s research project used social science to explore the potential demand for such a scheme for pig meat in Ireland by surveying pig meat consumers from Ireland and the UK and interviewing pig meat processors and retailers. Consumers from the UK were included in the research since the UK already has a successful higher welfare pig assurance scheme and label (RSPCA Assured) and as Ireland’s closest neighbouring country, are a significant importer of Irish pig meat.

A panel of over 400 pig meat consumers from each country completed the online survey during October 2022. The survey included questions about consumers’ sociodemographic characteristics, their food choice motives, what influences their intention to buy higher welfare labelled meat products and how likely they would be to purchase images of conceptual pig meat products with differing characteristics. The survey data was analysed and the results were included and the Queen’s University Belfast student’s Master’s thesis. The student has also disseminated the results on various occasions and plans to publish the research in an academic journal. The retailer and processor interviews are still underway.

Aims of the Project

The online consumer survey firstly aimed to evaluate the factors that influence consumers’ intention to purchase higher welfare pig meat products and the importance of ‘pig welfare’ relative to other product characteristics. The second aim of the survey was to estimate how much consumers valued the product characteristics: product type, price and, pig welfare/sustainability labelling and to differentiate groups of consumers based on how they much they value the different product characteristics. The aim of the interviews are to gauge Irish and UK retailers and processors perspective on the market for higher welfare pig meat. This research will provide scientific data that the industry can use to better understand consumer motivations and preferences when purchasing pig meat, and thus effectively market products to and target consumers.

Research Outputs

Funders and Collaborators

This research has been funded by Teagasc and the Walsh Scholarship Programme and has been performed in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) by the Master’s student Molly Harrison with the help of her supervisors: Professor Niamh O’Connell (QUB), Dr Keelin O’Driscoll (Teagasc) and Dr Sinéad McCarthy (Teagasc). We are grateful for the funding granted and all of the survey and interview participants who took part in the project.

Contact: molly.harrison@teagasc.iekeelin.odriscoll@teagasc.iesinead.mccarthy@teagasc.ie or niamh.oconnell@qub.ac.uk