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A new study has found that consumers prioritize factors like taste, quality, and animal welfare over green issues when choosing meat and dairy products. The research, conducted across five European countries, found that consumers value information related to animal welfare, food safety, and health and nutrition on product labels. Attributes such as freshness, quality/taste, and animal welfare were deemed most important, while environmental factors like food miles and organic production were considered less significant. Despite this, sustainability labels were seen as helpful by consumers.

The study, which involved 3,192 participants rating the importance of various factors when shopping for meat and dairy products, highlights the complex interplay of factors that influence consumer behavior. Dr. Andy Jin, a co-author of the study, emphasized the importance of labeling strategies that encompass multiple aspects of product attributes beyond just environmental considerations. The findings suggest that labels alone may not be enough to change consumer behavior, especially for those with low or no behavioral intention to buy sustainable products.

The implications of this research extend to policymakers, producers, and retailers in the food industry who are striving to meet consumer demand for more sustainable products. Dr. Jin suggested that additional policy measures, such as nudges or behavioral interventions, may be necessary to help individuals translate their attitudes into behavior and facilitate the choice of sustainably produced products. The study, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, involved collaboration between multiple universities in the UK, Spain, Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

Overall, the study underscores the importance of understanding consumer priorities when it comes to choosing meat and dairy products. While sustainability is valued, factors like taste, quality, and animal welfare are more influential in purchasing decisions. The research suggests that a holistic approach to labeling, encompassing multiple aspects of product attributes, may be more effective in encouraging consumers to choose sustainable options. By addressing the complex interplay of factors that influence consumer behavior, policymakers, producers, and retailers in the food industry can better meet evolving consumer demands for more sustainable products.

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