Public concern for farm animal welfare is growing. However, high welfare purchases require consumers to make sense of often confusing labels. This study aims to investigate consumers' preferences for higher welfare products with on-package animal welfare labels and to explore whether providing consumers with detailed information about the welfare conditions behind on-package animal welfare labels could have a positive influence on farm animal welfare. The survey was conducted online and involved participants (N = 1612) being randomly assigned into one of two-treatment groups: (1) an animal welfare label and (2) an animal welfare label with details about the welfare standards signified by that label. Participants were asked their intentions to purchase products with varying animal welfare labels. Participants were also surveyed with an adapted version of the Animal Attitude Scale that measured pro-welfare attitudes, resulting in an Animal Empathy Score (AES), a series of demographics questions, and to rate the welfare of pigs, chickens and laying hens in Australian food production. The results revealed that the provision of additional information significantly increased intention to purchase higher than conventional welfare products. The empathy measures revealed that younger participants, females and those with lower household incomes all had significantly higher AES. Moreover, AES was associated with intent to purchase higher welfare products. No interaction terms were significant, suggesting that the positive influence of information on purchase intentions is not dependent on participants' pro-welfare attitudes. Given animal welfare is market-driven in countries such as Australia, the findings suggest that providing farm animal welfare information at the point-of-purchase could boost appreciation and demand for higher than conventional welfare products.
Keywords: Animal attitude scale; Animal empathy score; Consumer purchase intentions; Farm animal welfare; Food-purchasing behaviour; High welfare products; Purchase decisions.
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