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Photo: Peter Prik Larsen

Consumers call for more animal welfare and transparency in primary production

In Denmark, the standard of animal welfare is not currently evident from a packet of meat sold in a supermarket, but a new government-backed animal welfare label is set to help consumers gain a better insight into the production conditions that went into producing the meat.

The new government-backed welfare label is an initiative based on a three-tier labelling scheme between the Danish government, certain supermarket groups and the Danish Agriculture and Food Council. The aim is to inform consumers about the conditions under which the animals were kept during primary production. New surveys from the Danish Agriculture and Food Council show that two out of three consumers in Denmark wish to be better informed about animal welfare during their supermarket shopping.

An animal welfare analysis conducted by the European Union supports these findings. The analysis also looked into consumers’ willingness to pay a price premium. The survey reveals that the Danes are particularly willing to pay extra for animal welfare-friendly products and only consumers in Sweden, Holland and Luxembourg show a greater willingness to do so.

Despite this high level of willingness, the reality is different when consumers come to make their shopping choice. This is shown in a new survey carried out by Gallup on behalf of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council. Some 2,982 Danes were asked what criteria they used to make their most recent purchase. In this case, just 6% responded that animal welfare is one of the parameters that influences their purchase. Danes currently opt for meat from Denmark when they want meat that carries good animal welfare credentials. But 'Danish՚ covers many qualities other than welfare, e.g. food safety and short transport times.

The government-backed animal welfare label – pork meat

Better Animal Welfare. This is not a mantra, but the name of Denmark’s new government-backed animal welfare label launched on 27 March 2017. It can be found on meat packaging in participating stores from the end of May. The aim is to raise further the welfare standards at Danish farms and provide consumers with greater transparency.

The new label is based on five basic pig production requirements, which exceed current legislative requirements. In order to qualify for the new label, the following must be complied with:

  • Sows must be loose-housed;
  • The pigs must have curly tails, i.e. intact – no tail docking and no tail biting;
  • More straw for rooting and manipulable material and for nest building;
  • More space
  • Maximum transport time - 8 hours

In Denmark, eight out of ten consumers are positively inclined towards the government-backed animal welfare label.

The label is a three-tiered scheme whereby meat that meets the most rigorous requirements carries three hearts. The Danish Agriculture and Food Council was involved in the launch and CEO Karen Hækkerup is certain that the label will make a real difference and help raise welfare standards for many hundreds of thousands of pigs.

A launch party
The launch of the welfare label was celebrated by pig producer Mikael Nielsen at his farm in Zealand. He took part in the production of the new welfare-labelled pig meat. Joining him in the celebrations were members of the Danish media, key figures from the Danish pig industry, representatives from participating supermarkets and the slaughterhouses.

With a newborn piglet in his arms, the Danish Food Minister Esben Lunde Larsen chats with farm owner and producer, Mikael Nielsen, who produces pigs under the new animal welfare label requirements.
Photo: Peter Prik Larsen


TV Chef Jesper Koch and owner of Restaurant Koch in Aarhus, conjures up a dish with new welfare pork, which was created especially for the occasion: 'Welfare pork with an Oriental twist’.
Photo: Peter Prik Larsen