Salmon comes second in consumer welfare league

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
23 April 2007, at 1:00am

UK consumers perceive salmon as having one of the best animal welfare standards, according to the RSPCA's report 'Consumer Attitudes to Animal Welfare'

In the report, conducted by Freedom Food, the RSPCA'S farm assurance and food labelling scheme, salmon is judged to have the second best living conditions, existing in an environment described as ‘similar to nature’. Dairy cattle are perceived to have the best welfare standards.

Sid Patten, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, said that salmon farmers were acutely aware of the public perception of food production. "It's great news that salmon is seen to have one of the best welfare standards for farmed animals. The industry has repeatedly challenged a sustained campaign from ill-informed critics for many years and the reality is that salmon are now farmed to the highest standards of welfare, with best practice principles applied at every stage of production," he added.

The RSPCA's investigation follows an earlier government report and a £1.2 million scientific research project by the Scottish Association for Marine Science. Both investigations show that consumers are concerned about the way fish are reared. The responsible use of veterinary medicines, and the impact medicines have on the marine environment are also key concerns. Mr patten said it was very encouraging to see that the negative messages perpetuated by some critics have been dismissed by the majority of consumers. Recent consumer research shows clearly that salmon producers are responding to their demands.

The RSPCA report suggests that more than half of the UK population purchases at least one or two higher welfare products a week. And that one out of four UK consumers would be willing to pay an extra 10% for higher welfare standards.

Nick Joy, Managing Director of Loch Duart Ltd, markets fish under the ‘Sustainable Salmon Company’ banner. He was involved in creating the Freedom Food standard for farmed salmon and said that it is encouraging to see that consumers are aware of the high standards practiced on fish farms. “Loch Duart has already discovered that consumers are willing to pay more for higher welfare and environmentally friendly products. This report is a welcome confirmation of this fact,” he added.