Animal-Welfare News Sways Meat Consumers

MANHATTAN, Kan. — News coverage of animal-welfare issues causes U.S. consumers to cut back on meat purchases and spend their money instead on non-meat items, a study indicated.

The university study, the first known examination of how news coverage affects U.S. pork, poultry and beef demand, found increased coverage of pork and poultry animal-welfare issues from 1999 to 2008 reduced consumer demand.

Curiously, demand for beef those years showed no conclusive influence from news coverage, researchers Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University and Nicole Olynk of Purdue University said in the Journal of Agricultural Economics.

It's possible "positive" and "negative" news about the physical and psychological well-being of cattle "canceled each other out, netting to be zero," Olynk told United Press International.

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