What consumers want to know about poultry welfare

The supply chain faces increased pressure and questions from consumers about the welfare of the poultry products they eat.

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White broiler chicken in a Poultry Farm
White broiler chicken in a Poultry Farm
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The supply chain faces increased pressure and questions from consumers about the welfare of the poultry products they eat.

“I think we all know that today’s consumers are more interested, but at the same time less connected, to where their food comes from than ever before,” Dr. Karen Christensen, senior director of animal wellbeing for Tyson Foods, said during “Coming Together Along the Food Chain: Opportunities for Enhanced Collaboration,” part of the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2022 Stakeholders Summit Preconference Webinar Series

“As they continue to ask great questions about how the animals that end up on their plate are raised, we owe it to them to engage in those important conversations.”

The modern consumer isn’t as interested in space or breed requirements, but they do want to know that their values align with the company or brand of the products they buy. 

“Right now, with the supply chain issues that everyone is familiar with, availability, cost and uncertainty is making this conversation even more difficult,” she added.

Why poultry welfare education matters

Animal rights organizations use consumer interest in where their food comes from to drive the agenda to remove animal protein from the center of the plate, so the conversation about poultry welfare is unlikely to stop anytime soon. 

The animal rights agenda is unlikely to give consumers what they really want – better poultry welfare throughout the supply chain, Christensen added.

“It’s important that consumers and customers get better educated in these important conversations about what good animal welfare really looks like,” she explained.

Educating about poultry welfare

When consumers learn about the poultry industry’s holistic approach to welfare, they’ll realize that continuous efforts to improve welfare is linked to better sustainability and a reduced environmental impact, less food waste and affordability.

Key welfare indicators (KWIs) offer an easy way for the industry to educate consumers, customers and other stakeholders. These focus on objective, easy to understand outcomes that can be managed and measured. For example, Christensen highlighted paw scores, wing damage, transportation livability and environmental impact parameters as a way to educate about how poultry is raised and cared for.

This is an opportunity to “assure people in the food supply chain that those animals came from a situation that met their expectations and met the expectations of consumers and that’s a terrific story to be able to tell,” Christensen said.

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