Much of what consumers believe about the use of gestation stalls in pork production is inaccurate. But when they’re exposed to further explanation of the equipment’s use and advantages, their concern is greatly reduced, according to research by Midan Marketing.
The firm polled consumers on their knowledge and beliefs regarding controversial topics in meat production and processing. Its findings regarding gestation stalls revealed:
- Just 39% of respondents said they were even aware of “gestation stalls” as an issue; of those, 70% had a negative reaction
- 66% said gestation stalls represented “poor animal treatment” and 48% said that was because the living quarters were too cramped
- 37% of consumers said they had made no changes in their pork consumption because of the gestation stall issue, but 42% said they “strongly agreed” with retailers’ plans to phase out pork from producers who continued to use the stalls
- Even so, 71% did not know whether their most-shopped retail store was among those who planned to phase-out their use of gestation stalls in the supply chain
Generally, consumers believe the use of gestation stalls is for the benefit of farmers, not the animals, with 73% saying that stalls make it easier for farmers to “ignore pigs.”
However, after reading additional background information on the reasons farmers began using them in the first place, 44% of those surveyed said their level of concern had decreased. Of that percentage, 26% said they understood why stalls were being used and 26% said they felt better just having more information.
Information Can Make a Difference
“The findings show this is not a consumer issue, it’s an industry issue that has been brought to the forefront by one organization,” says Danette Amstein, a principal at Midan.
While the research shows most people are unconcerned with how animals are raised, producers individually and the industry as a whole have an opportunity to be more proactive in sharing how production practices help animals as well as the people who care for them.
The key to reversing attitudes and misinformation is continued education, increased use of social media, and more transparency of best management practices.