GREENVILLE, NC (April 26, 2012)- Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), the nonprofit certification program for pasture-based family farms, and the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University, have just announced the results of a survey aimed at understanding consumer preference for sustainable meat, dairy and eggs. The national survey was conducted online in 2011 and focused on food choices while traveling, dining out, and eating at home.

Initial findings offer good news for sustainable farmers, as well as the retailers and restaurants offering their products. Almost half of respondents reported including sustainable meat, dairy, and/or eggs in 1-5 meals each week.  The vast majority of respondents believe sustainable products are healthier (89.6%), more nutritious (80.8%), better tasting (80.7%), better for the environment (93.8%), and safer (86.3%) than conventionally raised animal products. Additionally, a majority of respondents stated that they would pay more for sustainably raised meat, dairy and eggs, but noted these products were difficult to find in chain grocery stores. As 60% of respondents reported shopping in these chain grocery stores, this could represent a marketing opportunity for sustainable farms.

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther explained the evolution of the study: “We knew the demand was there. Proving it was another matter, and we are grateful to Dr. Carol Kline and her team, our partners on the study, for demonstrating the tremendous potential of this growing market and the importance of transparent labeling.” The study also revealed promising findings for farms engaged in agritourism. A majority of respondents reported a willingness to pay for a tour of a sustainable farm, and believed the visit would increase their loyalty to the farm brand.

The theme of transparency was a common thread throughout the study, and was most apparent in the overwhelming consumer demand for transparent labeling. Nearly all respondents said that clear labeling for animal products was very important to increasing the production and consumption of sustainably raised meats. Gunther concluded, “This study confirms what we have been advocating all along -informed consumers make sustainable choices.”

Read the full report at  http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2011-Animal-Products-Survey.pdf.