Consumers view free-range eggs as better tasting

Egg buyers appear to have linked taste with the ‘happiness’ of the hens

A happier hen lays better-tasting eggs, say consumers.

It seems most people buying free-range or cage-free eggs are doing so because they think the eggs are better, according to a recent study.

While they understand animal welfare issues, consumers appear to have linked welfare and product quality, feeling that “happier” chickens produce a better-tasting egg.

In a study, conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide and published in the journal Anthrozoös, the most often reported motivations for buying free-range eggs included reasons such as the eggs were of better quality, more nutritious, and safer to eat, and that they allowed purchasers to avoid “industrialized” food.

Despite participants describing caged-egg production as “cruel,” they did not tend to emphasize welfare reasons as critical for their purchases of free-range eggs.

This finding suggests that consumers are more likely to purchase a food product if it is both “ethical” and viewed as being of better quality, rather than for ethical reasons alone.

The study also revealed that there were high levels of awareness among participants of caged-egg production, when compared to other types of animal farming, said lead author Heather Bray.

“Taste and quality are strong motivations for purchasing and may be part of the reason why people are prepared to pay a higher price,” said Bray. “These findings suggest that consumers think about animal welfare in a much broader way than we previously thought, and in particular they believe that better welfare is connected to a better-quality product.”

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