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Is the meat industry hiding behind false imagery?

New research published by Emerald Group Publishing investigates increasing levels of opposition to the meat industry

Bingley, United Kingdom, 10 August 2016 – The availability of vegetarian and vegan food in restaurants and supermarkets is increasing globally; does this mean that people are becoming more critical of the meat industry?   

Emerald authors Daniela Weible, Inken Christoph-Schulz, Petra Salamon and Katrin Zander from the Thünen-Institut have conducted extensive research to uncover just how much opposition the public have to modern pig production, in their new research article '‘Citizens’ perception of modern pig production in Germany: a mixed-method research approach’', from the British Food Journal.

They discovered, from the widespread and diverse data sample, that 22% of people are opposed to the industry, 43% are indifferent and 35% are tolerant of the industry.  Those who are ‘tolerant’ have a high acceptance of the current system and no criticism towards modern pig production or the farmer at all.

It was also found that participants were far more likely to oppose the pig production industry the younger they were, the more information they had about the industry and if they were from a small household. Several other key factors were also prominent, with women and those with a higher income also being more likely to oppose to industry.
 
It is interesting to note that, though a large proportion of people agreed with statements expressing concerns and health risks on antibiotics used in pig husbandry or referring to the limited space for the animals, a huge proportion were still tolerant or indifferent towards the industry.  Similarly, a high percentage of respondents perceived consumers to be responsible for the shortcomings in modern animal husbandry but this attitude did not reflect their buying choices. 

Daniela Weible et al said: “Many consumers have romantic images of agriculture which accompany retrospective, nostalgic views. These perceptions are based on memories of their own childhood and on infants’ picture books. 

“The agri-food sector itself profits from such imagery by using pictures from idyllic farms and rural landscapes on food packages and in promoting their products. These pictures sharply contrast with the reality of modern animal husbandry; a sector which has experienced remarkable technical progress and significant change in the last 10 to 15 years, and which is now characterised by a high degree of specialisation and mechanisation.”

The full research article ‘Citizens’ perception of modern pig production in Germany: a mixed-method research approach’ is free to access until 17 August and can be accessed here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/BFJ-12-2015-0458 

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