In consumer surveys conducted both in 2003 and 2013, consumers were asked the question, "How knowledgeable do you consider yourself about animal care issues by meat, poultry, fish, egg and dairy farmers and food processors?"

They were asked to rate their knowledge as low, medium or high. In 2003, just over half of consumers rated their knowledge as low, just under 30 percent as medium and just over 20 percent as high. In 2013, almost 60 percent of consumers rated their knowledge as medium, just over 20 percent as low and just under 20 percent as high.

Mitch Head, consultant, Golin Harris, said, "People think they know more about animal care issues today than they thought they did 10 years ago. Whether they do or not, we don't know, but it's important to recognize that they think they know more today." Golin Harris conducts public relations activities for the United Egg Producers (UEP) in support of the UEP Certified program. Head reported on a recent survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers at the UEP's annual convention in Asheville, N.C.


Animal welfare

Consumers were asked, "How important is animal care when deciding which food to buy, brand preference and which grocery stores to shop?" Only 18 percent of respondents said that animal care never impacts their decision, while 57 percent said that it somewhat impacts their decision and 25 percent said that it always impacts their decision.

Consumers were asked to rate the issues that were important to them in their food buying decisions. They put food safety at the top of the list followed by price, local supply, animal welfare, environment, responsible sourcing, hormone-free and organic. These responses bode well for eggs since consumers rated eggs highly on animal welfare, sustainability and animal welfare.

When asked to rate where they thought eggs ranked for animal care, consumers put eggs in third place behind dairy and fish, but in front of pork, beef, chicken, turkey and veal. For food safety, consumers ranked eggs in second place behind only dairy, but in front of all the other animal proteins. Consumers ranked eggs number one in environmental sustainability.