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Consumers across five European countries prioritise animal welfare above environmental sustainability when buying meat and dairy products

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sophie Tindale, Professor Lynn FrewerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Food production systems, especially meat and dairy supply chains, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. An important question emerges as to whether consumers care about environmental sustainability when buying food products, as this can determine their consumption practices. Further, if sustainability labels are available, identifying information that is relevant to consumers is important. This research therefore aimed to identify the attributes that are most important for consumers when buying meat or dairy products and the perceived helpfulness of sustainability labels for meat and dairy products and important label properties. An online survey was conducted in five European countries (i.e. Czechia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK). Consumers valued similar attributes when buying meat and dairy products across all countries. Freshness, quality/taste and animal welfare emerged as the most important attributes, while environmental attributes such as food miles, carbon footprint, and organic production were the least important. Sustainability labels for meat and dairy products were perceived as helpful. Regression analysis identified similar patterns within all five countries regarding the predictors of the perceived helpfulness of sustainability labels. Attitudes towards sustainable food consumption, environmental attitudes, and food production and policies emerged as significant positive predictors in most models. Most importantly, information regarding animal welfare, food safety, and health and nutrition was perceived as being more important than environmental sustainability. This suggests that food choice decisions are unlikely to be made based on the environmental sustainability of a food product’s production alone.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ammann J, Mack G, El Benni N, Jin S, Newell-Price P, Tindale S, Hunter E, Vicario-Modrono V, Gallardo-Cobos R, Sanchez-Zamora P, Miskolci S, Frewer LJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Food Quality and Preference

Year: 2024

Volume: 117

Print publication date: 01/08/2024

Online publication date: 28/03/2024

Acceptance date: 27/03/2024

Date deposited: 29/03/2024

ISSN (print): 0950-3293

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6343

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2024.105179


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Funder referenceFunder name
774124Commission of the European Communities