Consumer perceptions of Precision Livestock Farming solutions

As the consumer’s acceptance is essential for the adoption and implementation of food innovations, ClearFarm has started exploring the fears, worries, preferences and expectations of consumers about Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) through a design thinking approach. The objective was to incorporate the voice of the consumer in the design of a solution for a better understanding of animal welfare and associated animal behaviour in dairy and pig products.

Accordingly, six consumer focus group discussions were conducted in three European countries on January 27 and 28, 2020. The workshops were held identically in Spain, the Netherlands and Finland, involving 56 participants in total who knew only a little about the production cycles of pigs and dairy cows, and about PLF technology.

The participants agreed that PLF could lead to many advantages for farm animals, farmers, producers and consumers. For them, technology can help to satisfy short-term needs pertaining to consumption, like taste and food safety. It also can help to satisfy their needs pertaining to animal-welfare and the environmental impact and importantly it may respond to an unfulfilled need for greater transparency and trustworthiness of the animal production chains.

Some disadvantages were also identified. The main concern was that PLF would become a form of robotization of livestock farming at the expense of animals and farmers with even more intensified production systems. Consumers were also worried about how the technology would increase prices and they highlighted the importance of transparency, reliability and trustworthiness.

With respect to the way in which information about animal welfare is offered to consumers, labelling was considered a key point. QR and barcodes were seen as fruitful complementary ways to inform consumers.