New Research Finds 84% of South Africans Demand Animal Wellness From Food Companies

NSF study shows that a significant shift towards ethical consumerism is underway in South Africa, with a majority of consumers calling for clear animal wellness transparency and compliance.

Stellenbosch, South Africa – A comprehensive study conducted by NSF, a leading global public health and safety organisation, has uncovered significant insights into South African consumers’ attitudes towards animal wellness and its impact on their purchasing decisions. The research, involving over a thousand participants across various regions, age groups, and genders, revealed an increasing demand for ethical practices in the food industry and the crucial role of third-party certification.

According to the study, a staggering 84% of South Africans deem animal wellness “very important” or “extremely important” when selecting animal products. This overwhelming majority underscores the growing consciousness among consumers towards the ethical treatment of animals and the expectation for businesses to adhere to high animal welfare standards.

Dr. Elaine Vanier, a veterinarian and the animal wellness programme lead for NSF, emphasised the significance of these findings, stating, “The results of our research clearly show that animal wellness is not just a trend but a fundamental concern among South African consumers. There is a strong call to action for companies in the food industry to demonstrate commitment and transparency in their animal welfare practices.”

The research also reveals that 87% of respondents consider it vital for companies to show consistency and compliance in animal wellness throughout their global supply chain. This sentiment is further echoed in the willingness of 76% of consumers to pay a higher price for products certified for animal wellness, highlighting the value placed on ethical standards and the trust in third-party certifications such as those provided by NSF.

“Consumers are making it clear that they are more likely to support brands that not only talk about animal wellness but also take tangible steps to ensure it across their operations. Animal wellness is about doing the right thing for the animal. It refers to the quality of life experienced in the food supply chain, including physical and psychological health, living conditions, and how animals are handled and treated. Animal wellness substantially impacts sustainability, product food safety, and the responsible use of antibiotics and medication. Our research reiterates the weight consumers place on this matter. We are increasingly called upon to support brands committed to putting these values into practice across their entire protein supply chain,” added Dr. Vanier.

Furthermore, the study indicates a high expectation towards international brands, with 85% of South Africans agreeing that brands should comply with animal welfare wellness standards.

“An overwhelming portion of consumers in South Africa are aware that ensuring the well-being of animals comes with a higher cost, with just 7% showing resistance to spending more on animal wellness-certified goods. This reflects a deep-seated ethical commitment among South African shoppers and their readiness to make choices that are both ethical and sustainable,” stated Wouter Conradie, Director of Supply Chain, Europe & Africa, from NSF. “Additionally, 86% of South African consumers expect global brands to adhere to animal wellness standards, sending a robust message that international companies must align with South African animal care values or risk losing relevance in this pivotal region.”

Key findings from the research:

  • 84% of South African consumers say animal wellness is either very or extremely important to purchasing decisions.
  • 87% of South African consumers said it was very important or extremely important that companies demonstrate consistency and compliance with animal wellness throughout their supply chain.
  • 80% declared they are more likely to purchase a product that has been certified for animal wellness by a third party, especially those between the 18-29 age group, who were 82% more likely.
  • Only 7% said they would be unwilling to pay a higher price for products certified for animal wellness.
  • 86% expect animal products sold by international brands to comply with animal wellness standards, which rises to over 91% for South Africans aged 45-59 and 60-75.
  • Only 3 in 10 said they were very or extremely informed of South African animal wellness standards.

Despite the strong emphasis on animal wellness, the survey also identified a need for greater awareness and education on the topic, with a portion of the population expressing a desire for more information on current standards and practices.

NSF encourages retailers, producers, and food brands to embrace independent animal wellness certifications such as NSF Global Animal Wellness Standards (GAWS) as a robust framework for delivering on the promise of animal wellness. This commitment benefits all parties involved, offering long-term advantages such as reduced antibiotic use, improved feed efficiency, higher yields, and better product grading.

With the growing consumer demand for ethical food production, NSF stands prepared to guide and support the industry with expertise and solutions to advance global animal wellness.

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About NSF

NSF is an independent, global organization dedicated to improving human and planet health. For 80 years, it has developed public health standards and provided world-class testing, inspection, certification, consulting and digital solutions to the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries. NSF operates in 180 countries and is a Pan American Health Organization and a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Food Safety, Water Quality and Medical Device Safety.

About the research

The independent research was conducted with a representative sample of respondents in South Africa. The sample was controlled for gender, age, and region. A total of N=1004 interviews were collected. The study seeks to explore consumer attitudes toward animal wellness in purchasing decisions, evaluating their importance, willingness to pay, and awareness to guide companies in aligning their strategies with ethical expectations and market demands. The survey was conducted using online interviews on the TGM Research Panel. Fieldwork: January 2024.

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