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Animal Health & Welfare

Animal Health & Welfare

What is it and why does it matter?

Providing for animals physical and mental needs by ensuring that they are safe, have appropriate shelter, and are well nourished. Ensuring best-practice in disease prevention, veterinary treatment, humane handling, and humane slaughter. 

Animal welfare is a core topic for beef and dairy buyers and consumers, with it being a strong premium-driver globally.  For agenda setters it is a “non-negotiable”. Ireland is seen as managing the topic well with our grass-fed and low intensity farming messaging, but more scrutiny will come with customers looking for hard data. 


Of meat and dairy buyers say “products in line with animal welfare requirements” is one of the most important factors when choosing a supplier, higher than non-sustainability attributes like consistency of supply and food safety standards


Of German beef consumers say it’s worth paying more for beef with high animal welfare standards, more than any other sustainability attribute


Waitrose App Measuring Emotional Wellbeing

Waitrose are trialling an app to measure how farm animals are feeling in order to improve quality of life


“it’s critical that we recognise farm animals as sentient creatures capable of experiencing a range of emotions and positive experiences”​​

- James Bailey Executive Director Waitrose​

Insights from 

Agenda Setters

Ireland is viewed as having a strong reputation and good regulation, but it is recognised that Ireland need to be leading in this area.

Customer's focus is species-specific but revolves mostly around living conditions (cage-free / sow wellbeing) and health. It is therefore closely linked to topics like grass-fed (see Grass Fed). The key themes of this topic are:​

  • Free from antibiotics and hormones​
  • Animals having ‘space’​
  • Linked by one commentator to a potential move away from certification to more hard data as retailers demand more evidence than a compliance mindset of “getting the stamp”, suggesting buyers will look for more proof and data around the topic​


Animal welfare ranks mid table overall but moving to just below price/ quality as a deciding factor for suppliers for those purchasing beef and dairy. ​

Meat and dairy buyers tend to be furthest in their sustainability journey, most likely to say sustainability is integral to their business, and most likely to feel the weight of pressure from consumers and policy around sustainability. For them, animal welfare is an essential topic where they feel consumer pressure, so dial up what you’re doing for animal welfare in any communications.​

Very important in EU markets but less so in China/UAE, where animal welfare isn’t closely connected to sustainability overall.


Similar to the customers, where animal welfare (& grass-fed) are mid table topics…however in beef, dairy and lamb it is a “top tier” influence. Globally, “high animal welfare standards” is one of  the top 3 drivers of purchase and premium for beef and dairy, along with grass-fed and quality assurance.  

However, there is a significant difference between Eastern and Western markets, with animal welfare a much more significant influence in Western Europe.  In Eastern markets like Japan, China and UAE it is less important and is eclipsed by food safety and quality. 

Agenda Setters -

If you’ve got a system that relies on animals to produce food this is very important. It’s also important from a human nutrition point of view
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications