What Is The Animal Processing Industry Doing Wrong? Critical Perspectives from Farmers and Consumers

Ivica Faleta, Marcus Mergenthaler, Inken Christoph-Schulz


The role of the animal processing industry in the food value chain is critical at a time when, on the one hand, the survival of many farms is uncertain and, on the other, consumer expectations are high. Research has shown that both farmers and consumers have concerns with the food processing̕ s role in the food system. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore the criticisms of these two members of the food value chain to the processing industry through direct one-to-one discussions more profoundly. In October 2020, 24 online one-to-one discussions were conducted with one farmer and one consumer each in six German regions. In Flensburg and Kempten, the focus was on criticism of the dairy processing industry, in Borken and Guestrow on the pork processing industry, and in Vechta and Magdeburg on the poultry processing industry. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed qualitatively. The results showed that both farmers and consumers criticized the following areas: the treatment of products during processing, the processing industry's adaptation to market demand, and pricing. In addition to these aspects criticized from both sides, farmers additionally criticized vertical integration in the case of the processing industry and its marketing strategy. Additional consumer criticisms related to the working conditions of workers in the processing industry. Although most of the areas criticized were the subject of criticism in the discussions of all three groups of farmers (dairy, pig, and poultry farmers) and consumers, the treatment of products during processing was criticized only in the discussions between dairy farmers and consumers, and the marketing strategy was criticized only by dairy farmers. The lessons learned from this study are useful for the processing industry, other actors in the value chain, such as food retailers, to align their activities with the expectations of producers and consumers. Implications can also be derived for policy makers in order to strengthen trust in the food system. From a methodological point of view, one-to-one discussions can generate in-depth insides into controversial topics.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.18461/pfsd.2023.2301

ISSN 2194-511X


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License