When consumers buy pork they think about price, meat quality and personal health and safety, says a pork checkoff-funded study.

The study was conducted in 2001 to gauge public opinion on pork and animal welfare.

"The National Pork Board funded the study in order to better grasp consumers’ opinions on the products they buy," explains Kathy Chinn, Clarence, MO, pork producer who chairs the Pork Checkoff Animal Welfare Committee. "When you look at the study, consumers don’t readily think of animal welfare at the meat case. However, knowing the perception of consumers is important so that we can better serve the consumer and assure them we properly care for our animals."

The study included focus groups with different levels of shopping, preparation, consumption habits, animal views and other demographics in Atlanta, Seattle and Washington, DC.

The study found that quality and taste are more important to consumers than the process of meat production. Livestock housing types doesn’t affect buying decisions.

Researchers did a follow up study of 1,000 adults to learn of consumer concerns regarding industry practices and animal welfare. They found:

  • The percentage of total consumers who don’t eat pork due to concerns about animal production or handling wasn’t much higher for pork (4%) than for other meats or fish.
  • Thirty-eight percent of consumers knew about animal welfare. Males, consumers 35-54 years old, college graduates, affluent consumers and consumers who live in the west are more likely to have seen or heard about animal welfare information.
  • Farmers, veterinarians and the Agriculture Department were viewed as equally reliable sources of information about animal welfare.