When purchasing pork, consumers are very interested in information about the individual farm where the pigs were kept, and they are willing to pay more for this information. These were the findings of research by Wageningen Economic Research that was conducted among consumers in the Netherlands, Germany and U.K.
Consumers want information primarily on the way in which the pigs are kept, the research found.
More than half of Dutch consumers choose products with source information and a higher price tag. This has been researched for ground pork, pork chops and pork tenderloin.
German and English consumers also have roughly the same willingness to pay, while the indication that the product comes from the Netherlands appears to lower the willingness somewhat for Germans and Brits. That willingness to pay amounts to around 13 eurocents/kg of pork, which is roughly equal to the additional costs incurred by the supply chain in order to be able to guarantee that the meat was sourced from the individual farms.
The need for information and willingness to pay are not related to incidents, specifically those with pigs, in this instance. Consumers largely find information about animal welfare and health to be important. Information on origin and environment scored lower. Consumers have little interest in how pigs are transported or slaughtered.
The research found that the sourcing information can best be communicated on the product or at the place where it is purchased. Working with a QR code or an app scored low with consumers in all three of the countries researched.
Also, few consumers actually made the effort to seek out the information on the website provided. However, it was found that consumers do appreciate that the option is offered. This apparently gives consumers enough confidence for them not to actually seek out the information. For Dutch consumers, the image of the store itself and a logo on the packaging increased the willingness to pay more.
If the consumer considers himself a price-conscious buyer, then the willingness to pay more for sourcing information decreases, the research found.
The pork supply chain wants to foster a positive image and confidence in consumers by operating in a responsible and careful manner, securing its working methods and proactively informing consumers, according to the researchers involved in the study. This is in line with what a large segment of consumers feels must be ensured and properly handled, they said.
The supply chain parties were found to consider direct contact between consumers and pig farmers on open days and in viewing stables to be the most suitable format for sharing information on the ins and outs of pig farms and the supply chain. The drawback is that the number of consumers reached is limited. Supply chain parties also recognize the potential drawbacks of greater transparency, such as individual business owners becoming the targets of protest groups.
The research was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality (formerly the Ministry of Economic Affairs). The study consists of four components:
- An analysis of the AH/VION practical testing with sourcing information;
- Interviews with the links in the pork supply chain regarding various levels of sourcing identification for the pork product;
- An online survey of Dutch consumers regarding sourcing information and other forms of transparency, as well as the format in which the information is provided, and
- An online survey of Dutch, German and English consumers regarding the willingness to pay for sourcing information on the pork product.