Anthanasios Krystallis from MAPP Centre, Aarhus C in Denmark was one of the invited speakers at the final Feed for Health Conference. His complete presentation is now available as a video (see at end of this newsitem).
Animal production enterprises are facing progressive increase in meat demand in emerging markets (i.e. BRIC countries), and more fragmented demand in mature (i.e. Western) markets. To respond to those two parallel trends, product differentiation, process- or product-based, is needed. Production process-differentiation characteristics could be represented by ethical (i.e. sustainable) farming practices. Ethical meat production appears to have great market potential, especially when constant and reliable signalling and information is given to consumers.
However, current market realities indicate small market shares of ethical meat, despite academic evidence suggesting positive consumer attitudes towards sustainable meat production practices. This controversy points towards the existence of a gap between citizens' attitudes and consumer behaviour. This presentation thus aims to offer insights to respond to the following central question: is informed consumer choice an option for bridging the attitudes-behaviour gap and promoting ethically produced meat? And, is ethical labelling a viable and convincing communication alternative? Aiming at stimulating relevant dialogue, this presentation will attempt to contribute to the creation of a relevant research agenda. Ideally, this agenda should also incorporate questions that deal with the issue of consumer acceptance and how to communicate perceived benefits of ethical/sustainable meat to consumers in a trustworthy and convincing way.
Ethical signalling (i.e. labels) should be able to meaningfully summarise the information conveyed, as consumers tend not to pay attention to detailed/technical information. However, only if certification bodies establish reputation in the markets will the corresponding labels be accepted as quality surrogates. Moreover, consumers appear willing to pay for ethical labels, yet this should be expected to differ per consumers' demographics, beliefs & attitudes, as well as per meat product and production process types. Consequently, the issue of ethical meat production from a consumer perspective requires a targeted strategic approach. Above all, ethical meat should "deliver" its value (i.e. hedonic, nutritional, social) to consumers as any other meat or food type, incorporating intrinsic qualities that would justify superior experienced quality; only then, ethical process-based extrinsic quality cues (i.e. sustainable labels) will be able to fully deploy their market dynamism.