Irish meat eaters develop taste for ethical production

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/Maria_Lapina
© iStock/Maria_Lapina
Irish shoppers increasingly want ethically produced meat and are willing to pay more for labels such as organic and free-range, a government study has found.

What was traditionally important to consumers when choosing meat – health, safety and taste – is increasingly vying with social, ethical and moral factors, according to the study carried out by Teagasc, Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority.

Researchers from Teagasc questioned 251 consumers across the Republic of Ireland on their behaviour, beliefs and perceptions when buying and eating meat. 

They found that Irish meat-eaters are increasingly looking at food labels for information on farm-level production practices as an indicator of quality. This could be a label to indicate free-range enclosures, high welfare standards, the use of organic feed or the absence of hormones and antibiotics during the animal rearing.

Lead author, Dr Áine Regan in Teagasc’s department of agri-food business and spatial analysis said these had become priorities for a “far from […] niche” ​number of people.

Consumers are 'concerned citizens' 

“The study identified that around a third of the study sample could be grouped into a segment of consumers who placed a high priority on the link between these four production practices and meat quality.”

This perception of quality also translates into a willingness to pay more. “This indicates that consumers are not just supportive of animal welfare from a ‘concerned citizen’ perspective; rather, they consider these dimensions as attractive product attributes that influence their assessments of meat quality and are likely to influence their purchasing decisions,” ​the authors write.

The body suggests that “new forms of engagement and communication” ​are needed to inform the consumer on animal welfare issues and connect consumers directly with primary producers.

“The consumer’s definition of ‘quality’ is constantly being re-evaluated and redefined,”​ Regan said. “This has important implications for quality assurance schemes and highlights the need for continuous development of these schemes to align with consumers’ needs and values."

Source: Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research

Ethical, moral and social dimensions in farm production practices: a segmentation study to assess Irish consumers’ perceptions of meat quality​”

Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1515/ijafr-2018-0002​ (2018)

Authors: Regan, Á., Henchion, M. and McIntyre, B.

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Impact of the new Novel Food process on applicants

Impact of the new Novel Food process on applicants

Pen & Tec Consulting Group | 11-Mar-2019 | Technical / White Paper

A year after its implementation, this technical paper questions whether changes to the novel food regulation have brought about positive improvements to...

The Ingredients Show 2019 NEC Birmingham

The Ingredients Show 2019 NEC Birmingham

William Reed | 01-Jan-2019 | Product Brochure

We’ve been bringing food and drink markets together for over 150 years. And the drive to
inform and serve our sectors that fuelled the launch of...

The unrivalled potential of gelatine

The unrivalled potential of gelatine

Gelita AG | 03-Dec-2018 | Data Sheet

Gelatine’s multifunctional technological properties provide product developers with an unrivalled toolbox for current and future food applications. None...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more