What on Earth are they thinking?

In a study conducted on attitudes towards animal welfare, 41% of people stated they were ‘very concerned’ about farm animal welfare and a further 44% said they were ‘somewhat concerned’. That makes for a total of 86% of concerned people; the results are conclusive, or they would be if that was the only question that was asked.

86% were willing to pay some amount extra for legislation to ban cage eggs, but there was no correlation between willingness to pay and actual purchasing of free-range eggs…

…okay… put in another way

Some people who were already paying more for free-range eggs, were not willing to pay more for free-ranged eggs…


Let me get this straight we have:

  1. People who pay more for free-range eggs, who don’t want to pay more for free-ranged eggs.

  2. People who buy caged eggs who are willing to pay more for free-ranged eggs.

Did they all miss that memo about freedom of choice?

Sure people in category 1 might be answering honestly, maybe they just don’t believe in imposing their views on others via legislation. the researchers have another theory; these participants perceived themselves buying free-range eggs and the entire country buying free-range eggs as two different outcomes. It is analogous to charitable donations “what difference can I make”. People believed that animal welfare is important but couldn’t see the impact that one person could have while the supermarket shelves are still fully stocked with cage eggs. On the other hand, it is easy to see the difference that can be made when the entire country stops consuming cage eggs.

Or maybe the people in category 2 were just lying so they didn’t look like heartless bastards.


4 comments so far

  1. selinamj on

    Hmmmm I was a bit confused of your interpretation of the stats but that could just be me.
    I think the point about people tailoring their responses to give them a ‘warm glow’ was interesting as obviously this has many implications for evaluating the success of a campaign or getting information about your market. I am not sure how you would be able to eliminate this response, I think it is just something that you would need to be aware of.
    I think this topic is really interesting because my family owns a free range egg farm. I don’t think this study was all that valuable in evaluating whether the population would support paying for legislation that banned caged eggs. I understand that it would work to gauge the public attitude towards animal welfare and to gain an understanding of their level of support for legislation. However eggs are a product that people will continue to buy no matter how expensive it is, like milk, bread, flour and sugar. This is not the same for things like veal or other meat products. It might be valuable to do a study on those markets instead as those would require the public committing to pay more for legislation to be acceptable.

  2. noelynn on

    Yes, me too, am a bit lost from the introduction of the post. But I guess the message is toward the end of the post. “What on earth were they thinking?”

    Human beings are labeled as the top carnivores as far as a general food chain is concerned. Eggs were chosen as an example to use in this post, however, a different animal protein such a pork perhaps would be a good one. Why? Because as Selina admits of which I agree, eggs is a protein choice people will not hasitate to purchase no matter how much it cost. It is an essential protein from animals people love.

    On the other hand, the fact that animal welfare is important, why are pigs slaughtered for human consumption? I guess the animal and livestock industry should come up with helpful policies.Incorperated or supported by health studies to show unhealthy issues involved in pork or beef consumption, if there is. May be this should ease our craving for animal meat as protein sources.

    It may also help to reduce the impact or attitudes developed towards animal welfare.

  3. gracehamilton35 on

    I have a friend who has a brother that used to print out pictures of battery hens and put them on the eggs in his fridge. This was done in protest of their mother buying cage eggs and changing to free range. So I guess she would be in the group that buy free range eggs and don’t want to. I don’t think it was that she didn’t buy them because she is the “bad guy” in the situation, I think it was more that she was set in her ways before the outrage of battery hens. It was the same before the images of the cattle on four corners was reveiled. People didnt know how it happened and therefore didn’t care.

  4. axl1228 on

    Also get a little bit confused. But I think this is a very interesting topic.
    What do you guys think? Cage eggs and free range eggs are under different categories? or in the same category – “EGG”? And can you taste the difference between them? My dad can, but i can’t.
    “Of the thousand and one variables which might affect buyer behaviour, it is found that nine hundred and ninety-nine usually do not matter. Many aspects of buyer behaviour can be predicted simply from the penetration and the average purchase frequency of the item, and even these two variables are interrelated.” (Ehrenberg)
    For me, and I assume for most people, egg is a repeat purchase, which means we buy eggs for functional needs, to most extent. Normally, we jump from 5 to 7 brands when we do repeat purchase, and packaging, price, promotion and cultural factors have strong impacts on such habit based decision making process.
    Therefore, if in people’s mind, cage eggs and free range eggs are mostly the same in taste, they will put these two in the same categories and buy the cheapest ones or well-packaged ones. Then animal welfare is not in consideration.

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