PoultryUSA - September 2017 - 2
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BY GARY THORNTON
3 pointers for the
broiler welfare debate
Scientific facts about animal welfare won't influence consumers who either don't
understand the issue or are being swayed by powerful emotional narratives,
concluded a panel of broiler welfare experts at the 2017 Chicken Marketing
Summit. They said producers must step up efforts to communicate with all food
stakeholders about the welfare of broilers.
Design welfare messaging that resonates with consumers.
The broiler industry's ability to grow birds quickly to market weight has become a negative consumer issue. Producers need to explain that improved genetics, nutrition and management are responsible for the superior growth of broilers,
said Anne-Marie Neeteson, vice president of welfare and compliance, Aviagen.
Another concern is about "big agriculture." Jack Hubbard, vice president of
marketing, American Humane Association, said, "The totality of the industry is
what activists focus on. At the heart of their argument is that big is bad."
Consumers are uncomfortable with polarized positions when it comes to
their food decisions, said Jerome Lyman, former vice president of global quality
systems, McDonald's. Producers must be careful to avoid what the activists are
seeking - the polarization of views.
Know the audience for your animal welfare messaging.
Producers' broiler welfare messaging should focus on consumers with open
minds and who need a story or narrative in which to believe. "Trying to change
the views of those who are committed on the issues is probably not worth the effort," Lyman said. "Their views won't be changed."
Consumers are often not even the real targets in activist campaigns, said
Sara Lilygren, formerly vice president of corporate affairs, Tyson Foods. The
targets are the major brands and the governmental regulators.
Communicate early on broiler welfare issues.
Don't wait for consumer views about broiler welfare to take shape or the opportunity to have an impact will be lost, Lyman said. "If you wait for a point of
view about broiler welfare, particularly if is extreme, to take shape with consumers, you have probably lost your ability to intellectually impact the issue because
by the time it comes to your table it is already full of emotion," he said. ■
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www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ September 2017