Raising the standard
In recent years, despite prolonged economic fears and recession, animal welfare has remained a priority for consumers. Recent research reveals that nearly half of all shoppers are concerned about a farmed animal's living conditions and around one-in-five buy higher welfare food regularly. Equally, the very best of our supermarkets have continued to raise their policies and commitment to match.
Sales and demand for free-range eggs has rocketed three-fold in the last 10 years, with sales of Freedom Food chicken quadrupling in even less time, to over 20 million kilos in 2010 ¿ while sales of `standard' chicken dipped by 11 million kilos over a similar period. Proof that consumers are choosing to shop by more than price alone ¿ how produce is farmed is also hugely important. Welfare-aware supermarkets continue to successfully tap into that increasing demand.
We know that there's still a long way to go before standardised labelling stretches across an industry as big as food, but there have been notable improvements. A food-labelling milestone was reached in 2010 when the major retailers and producers signed up to a voluntary code of practice for the labelling of pork products ¿ to provide consumers with clear details of how the animal was reared and the country of origin. Find out more in the `Code of Practice' area of www.rspca.org.uk/pigs
Consumer spending on ethical goods and services has also continued to rise in recent years, with the latest estimates suggesting over £36 billion set aside for specific produce by increasing numbers of ethically-aware shoppers in this country ¿ a figure sure to make good businesses sit up and take note.
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