Salmon 'tops' consumer welfare league

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

UK - UK consumers perceive salmon as having one of the best animal welfare standards, according to a new report.

Titled Consumer Attitudes to Animal Welfare, salmon is judged to have the second-top living conditions, with their environment described as similar to nature.

Highlighting the best and worst animal living conditions, salmon is positioned behind the first-placed dairy cattle, but ahead of pigs, beef cattle, sheep, turkeys, ducks, chickens and laying hens.

Conducted by Freedom Food, the RSPCAs farm assurance and food labelling scheme, the report included a survey of 1,000 British shoppers from different age groups and regions in the UK.

Commenting on the findings, Sid Patten, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said: Salmon farmers are acutely aware of the public perception of food production and it is great news that salmon is perceived to have one of the best welfare standards for farmed animals.

The industry has repeatedly challenged a sustained campaign from ill-informed critics over the course of many years which has been designed to damage its progress.

The reality is that salmon are farmed to the highest standards of welfare, with best practice principles applied at every stage of production in the now one year-old Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture. These principles have been informed by many years of research and development and application of the highest standards in health management.

This piece of consumer research follows on from an earlier government report and a 1.2 million scientific research project by the Scottish Association for Marine Science, both of which belie the impression given by critics, he added.

Noting many people feel very strongly that fish are farmed in a responsible manner, Patten said: The former confirmed the responsible use of veterinary medicines, the latter the negligible impact of medicines on the marine environment. It is therefore extremely encouraging to see that the negative messages perpetuated by some commentators have been dismissed by the large majority of consumers.

The report suggests that more than half of the population is buying 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 per cent for higher welfare standards.

Nick Joy, Managing Director of Loch Duart Ltd, whose fish are marketed as from the Sustainable Salmon Company, said: As we were involved in the creation of the Freedom Food standard for farmed salmon, it is encouraging to see that the consumer is aware of the excellent welfare practiced on salmon 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.