Factory farming is “strongly opposed” by almost 80% of British people, according to the latest research from YouGov.
In response to the survey, which was commissioned by animal protection charity Open Cages in December 2021, an overwhelming majority of Brits (78%) stated that they “strongly oppose the use of typical factory farming practises to produce cheap food”.
Respondents were given examples of factory farm practises which typically cause animals to experience pain or suffering as a means of producing affordable food. These included breeding chickens to grow 400% faster than natural and keeping large volumes of animals inside large, crowded facilities for their entire lives.
The poll investigated how UK shoppers balance animal welfare with affordable food. Higher prices are generally recognised as the main obstacle to improving farm animal welfare, as intensive animal farming is specifically designed to minimise the costs of rearing and slaughtering the animals.
However, over 70% of farm animals in the UK are kept in intensive facilities, while a number of undercover investigations have suggested that animal suffering is commonplace on British farms, contrary to the high welfare standards claimed by big retailers and industry schemes such as Red Tractor.
Animal charities such as Open Cages are urging food businesses to take note, arguing that these revelations strongly challenge the current view that British consumers do not want to pay higher prices for animal products.
“Very few people find these practices morally acceptable. So why do supermarkets like Morrisons continue using them? Behind the scenes, there’s a common attitude of seeing consumers as too cheap to support a move to higher standards,” said Open Cages CEO Connor Jackson.
“When Morrisons’ chicken is sold as ‘welfare assured’ – even when it’s not – consumers cannot make truly informed choices… I hope retailers are taking note.”
Jackson continued: “This poll suggests that the vast majority of British consumers aren’t interested in such a trade off: they don’t want cruelty to be the price. It blows this outdated attitude out of the water.”