Sustainability Issue #2 June 2008

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Sweden values happy pigs

Some consumers are willing to pay animal welfare because they empathise with the animals.  Photo: Mats Gerentz, SLU.

Sweden values happy pigs

By Caroline Liljenstolpe

Some consumers are willing to pay more for the meat if they know that the pig had had a good life, others because they believe that animal welfare makes for safer food. Mobile slaughterhouses are one of the animal welfare measures that customers value.

In her doctoral thesis, Caroline Liljenstolpe has studied the willingness of customers to pay for certain measures in Swedish pig production that promote animal welfare. Consumers have a particularly high willingness to pay for mobile slaughterhouses and the keeping of pigs in separate small pens.

There is a lot of variation in the preferences of consumers. One animal welfare measure, such as to stop castration of piglets, may be seen by some individuals as a positive measure and they will therefore be prepared to pay for this measure, while other individuals have a negative attitude to the same measure and are willing to pay to stop the introduction of this regulation.

Groups vary in their views regarding animal welfare. Some consumers are willing to pay for animal welfare because they empathise with the animals, while another group considers that a high standard of animal welfare make for better food safety. The consumers who accord priority to food safety think that organic products contribute to the safety and cleanliness of food, while those who prioritise animal welfare do not think that the production of organic food has been accompanied by greater “animal friendliness”.

In conclusion, Swedish animal welfare legislation is modelled in an economic equilibrium model. It is seen that legislation has been instrumental in reducing domestic production of pigmeat and increasing the prices of Swedish-produced meat. But since animal welfare measures in many cases are part of quality certification processes, in some cases initiated by slaughterhouses or voluntary stakeholder organisations, there is no clear answer as to how Swedish production would have been changed if the stricter animal welfare laws had not been introduced.

Author :

Caroline Liljenstolpe

Literature:

Caroline Liljenstolpe, “Consumer valuation studies and structural modelling of the pig industry – A focus on animal walfare”. Doctoral thesis from Economics, SLU.

Responsible for this page: Birgitta Bruzelius

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