Concerns about food safety, the environment and farm animal welfare are prompting increasing numbers of consumers to seek out ethically produced food, including meat, dairy and eggs from humanely raised animals, even if it means paying more. A new survey from San Francisco-based Context Marketing shows that almost 70 percent of American food shoppers are willing to pay more for food that is safe, humane and environmentally sound. Education, consumer advocacy and lifting the veil from the practices of industrialized agriculture are transforming shopping habits. Despite industry efforts, concern for farm animal welfare is gaining significant strength. The study finds that the importance of animals being humanely raised is exceeded only by food safety concerns, and animal welfare scores well above “natural” and “organically produced.” Consumers who have grown up more aware of how food is produced are intensifying the demand for meat, dairy and eggs from humanely raised animals: Forty-four percent of shoppers aged 20 to 34 always look for cage-free eggs.
In response to farmer interest in labeling, Animal Welfare Approved has launched a new labeling section. The site is designed to help farmers and processors navigate the labeling process and serves as the portal for accessing Animal Welfare Approved’s free labeling service for certified farms. Featuring labeling guidance, information on claims approval and a gallery of approved labels, the new site and service can save producers time and effort in creating an attractive, effective label for certified products. And as with AWA certification, there is no charge for this service for farmers in the program. Farms interested in certification should visit AWA’s Certification page for more information.
Farmers and processors can use the information in AWA’s new online labeling resource to help distinguish their pastured products in the marketplace, and consumers and retailers will be able to use these resources to ensure they are sourcing sustainable products. AWA farmers interested in using AWA’s free labeling service should contact Emily Lancaster at Emily@animalwelfareapproved.us or (202) 618-4497.
The launch of AWA’s new labeling section coincides with the release of “Food Labeling for Dummies,” AWA’s new comprehensive guide for consumers. The guide dispels some of the common misconceptions in food labeling and is available for free download here. Program Director Andrew Gunther explained the guide’s evolution: “We were first approached by a group of chefs who were bewildered by the array of label claims. They wanted a one-stop resource for accurate information that could be used in their everyday purchasing decisions. What we ultimately created has gone far beyond that to serve anyone engaged in cooking or eating – from the home cook to the school cafeteria to the five star restaurant.”
These new labeling resources are part of Animal Welfare Approved’s ongoing commitment to accuracy and transparency in food labeling. Feedback on the new labeling site and guide is appreciated as these resources evolve to serve the needs of farmers and consumers.