The approaches implemented by the animal sectors in France in response to societal expectations are in particular focused on animal welfare in order to increase consumer credibility. The most numerous approaches fall under the category of "progress". These propose an evolution of the breeding conditions, in small steps but on the greatest number of animals and farms possible. The approaches of "rupture » are few in number and aim to offer a real alternative to production standards. These private steps segmentation create competition in the ethical animal products market. The approaches that we call "progress" are characterized by their objective of encouraging farmers to implement practices that go beyond regulation. The specifications of these approaches do not set an absolute level to be respected, but a commitment to improve, accompanied by monitoring indicators. The existence of a “progress plan” makes it possible to set objectives and communicate them in the medium and long term. It generally covers several dimensions: health, welfare and animal feed, the impact on the environment and the remuneration of farmers.
“Rupture” approaches aim to offer production methods, that are significantly different from standard methods by specifications setting requirements clearly above the regulations (example: quality label, organic farming...).
These approaches are promising because they respond to a societal expectation in favor of systems that are more respectful of the environment and animal welfare. The risk of "welfare washing" need to be considered. "Welfare washing" is described as deceiving the consumer by approaches displaying the ambition to improve animal welfare, but lacking in requirement or even honesty. However, unlike non-GMO approaches, for which the affixing of the indication is regulated, logos concerning animal welfare for beef cattle are not framed by regulations, which opens the door to certain approximations and drifts. Sometimes specifications are rarely accessible, often inaccurate and difficult to understand for an uninformed public, which does not facilitate the task of consumers in their purchases.
In recent years, private approaches to positive labelling of animal products have emerged. They seek to address consumer concerns, for their health or animal welfare in particular. For retailers animal welfare becomes a marketing and commercial argument to stand out. Most large companies today include an "animal welfare strategy" in their sustainability report. They implement a multidimensional progress plan (environment, health, well-being, etc.). Some then decide to communicate their approach to the consumer through labelling. Private segmentation approaches create competition on the market for animal products committed to quality approaches.
Authors: Mylène Berruyer and Hélène Fuchey - IDELE