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Consumers gravitating to 'humanely raised' foods: Study

Consumers are looking for higher welfare products and retailers are responding

Consumers are interested in farm animal welfare, and consequently, the number of store products claiming the promise of better welfare is on the rise.

Analysis from market researcher Technomic and the New York-based American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shows 30% of U.S. supermarket decision makers are stocking more of these products and seeing the benefits of doing so through strong sales.

According to the study, consumers want independent inspection certifying that animals have been treated humanely, and want their stores to offer products with label claims certified by the independent inspection firms. However, the push for transparency is leading to a degree of “label fatigue,” because shoppers are inundated with choices, from certified organic and non-GMO to free-from and animal welfare identifiers.

Additionally, the study says more than 70% of the stores stocking products with humane claims report sales from these products have increased over the past three years. Another 45% of stores that reported stocking products with humane claims for more than two years indicated sales of the items have sustained.

Retailers admitted largely they do not understand the differences between animal welfare claims — which the study said are unverified and often undefined — and animal welfare certifications that are verified, meaning backed by audits and robust standards.

Despite the confusion over label meanings, retailer interest in stocking higher welfare products seems to be mirroring consumers’ elevated awareness and desire for such products. A recent survey showed that about three-quarters of consumers are studying labels related to animal welfare more than they were just five years earlier, looking for reassurance about how farm animals were treated. Yet two-thirds of those surveyed also thought claims such as “free range” and “cage-free” guaranteed better treatment for farm animals than they actually do.

The full report can be found here.

A version of this article appeared at


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