U.S. consumers are increasingly influenced by media coverage of animal welfare issues which impacts on meat demand.

A study that involved a search of U.S. newspapers and magazines from 1982 to 2008, suggested that media attention to animal welfare issues has reduced pork and poultry demand but not directly impacted beef demand.

“While beef demand was 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,” said Glynn Tonsor, a Kansas State University Research and Extension agricultural economist. He, along with Nicole Olynk, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Purdue, conducted the study.

The research found that increased media attention caused a reallocation of consumers’ expenditures to nonmeat food rather than a reallocation of expenditures across competing meat products, Tonsor said.

While the study is a first assessment on the topic, Tonsor said, much additional research is needed.

“The changes to estimated consumer demand need to be paired with production cost impacts associated with adjustments in on-farm production practices in order to derive estimates of net economic influences on consumers, livestock producers, and society,” Tonsor said. “This study supports this and related evaluations to improve the understanding of how increasing pressure to adjust on-farm practices to reflect societal pressures regarding animal well-being is economically impacting market participants throughout the livestock and meat supply chain.”

Source: Kansas State University