Trust no One? Citizens’ Concerns regarding the Pork and Dairy Supply Chain

Anja Rovers, Inken Christoph-Schulz, Nanke Brümmer,, Doreen Saggau


Latest studies show that a responsible treatment of farm animals is important to many citizens. Furthermore, societal expectations towards animal husbandry and present husbandry systems mismatch more and more. Thereby, pig production is criticized more than dairy farming. This paper gives insights into citizens’ main points of criticism among the pork and dairy cattle supply chain. It also intends to show several aspects of distrust.
To capture a variety of opinions and expectations among the population, focus groups with citizens were carried out. For each topic (pig and dairy cattle husbandry) six focus groups took place in three German cities. Participants discussed about their perception of actual animal husbandry with respect to housing systems, animal health and well-being. Using content analysis with a mixed inductive and deductive category system, three sources of concerns were identified: role of farmers, legal framework and food retail.
First, participants reflect the role of farmers and discuss that farmers only comply with the minimum of statutory requirements. Accordingly, participants think that farmers accept fines in order to avoid changes in their animal husbandry. Second, participants doubt the legal framework. In their view the standards are very low, especially regarding animal welfare. So, for instance, it enables farmers to circumvent the regulations. To improve the situation, participants emphasize a major revision of the legal framework for animal husbandry. Another critical focus is on legal controls. Participants remark that controls are often announced previously. The third point of criticism affects food retail. It is complicated for consumers to understand the complete supply chain. According to this, animal production takes more and more place behind closed doors without transparency. Altogether these aspects lead to an increasing rejection of animal products. The concerns were stronger in case of pork than in case of dairy cattle. As a consequence, some participants state to consume less or no pork or change to meat alternatives.
Results suggest different possibilities among the complete supply chain, to understand citizens’ points of concerns better and to improve the situation of farm animal husbandry. Doing so, citizens’ concerns might be reduced resulting in more trust into the whole system again. Hence, more consumers of meat will be kept and will not consume more and more meat substitutes.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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