Animal Welfare Coverage Hits U.S. Meat Demand

Increased media attention to animal welfare issues has significant negative effects on U.S. meat demand, according to a new study by Kansas State University.

Increased media attention to animal welfare issues has significant negative effects on U.S. meat demand, according to a new study by Kansas State University .

The study's looked at how media coverage affected aggregate consumer demand for meat between 1982 and 2008. It found that media attention to animal welfare issues has reduced demand for both pork and poultry, but has not directly affected beef demand. The analysis also suggests media articles influence meat demand for both the quarter they are released and the subsequent quarter following the article's publication.

While beef demand is found to not be directly influenced by increased media attention to animal welfare issues, this should not be interpreted as the beef industry being immune. In particular, this study found increased media attention caused a reallocation of expenditures to nonmeat food rather than reallocating expenditure across competing meat products.

Accordingly all three evaluated livestock and meat industries stand to lose if total meat expenditure is reduced as consumers obtain increasing amounts of media information regarding animal well-being and handling issues.

The report says its findings suggest that U.S. meat producers "may be well served by collaborating in recognizing and responding to changing societal pressures regarding animal well-being." 

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