One in three British shoppers claim tucking into a turkey with a higher welfare label is more important than the size and price, but the vast majority of supermarket turkeys still come from farms of which the RSPCA disapproves.
The increasing demand for ethical food continues this Christmas with British shoppers claiming tucking into a turkey with a higher welfare label, is more important than the size and price.
According to research into higher welfare food – published today for RSPCA Freedom Food – more than one in three adults (34%) said if they were going to buy a turkey this Christmas they would choose one with a higher welfare label, such as Freedom Food or free-range.
Just 10% said they would buy the cheapest, largest turkey they could find.
Turkeys from farms inspected to the RSPCA’s strict welfare standards – under the Freedom Food label – rocketed 36% last Christmas, from just over one million birds (1,015,000) in December 2009 to nearly 1.4 million (1,379,000) in December 2010.
Freedom Food claims the trend looks set to continue this year but, despite this impressive increase and growing consumer demand, it is feared that animal loving Brits will be left disappointed as the vast majority of turkeys in our supermarkets still come from farms of which the RSPCA disapproves.
The research also revealed:
- 52% of people surveyed believe that more than 20% of UK turkeys are reared to RSPCA welfare standards;
- 30% of people believe that the figure is more than 40%.
In fact turkeys from farms inspected to RSPCA standards, and sold under the Freedom Food label, only account for about 7% of all British farmed turkeys.
This means the majority of the 16 million turkeys reared in the UK each year are kept in unacceptable conditions.
RSPCA farm animal scientist Alice Clark said: “We are really concerned about the way the majority of turkeys in the UK are looked after. Most of them are kept in a very barren environment where they simply aren’t given enough space to move around and exercise properly.
“Turkeys are intelligent birds and naturally inquisitive. They need things to do, such as objects to peck at and perch on.”
And according to the higher welfare research, the vast majority of respondents share this concern. A staggering 81% say they think more turkeys should be farmed to RSPCA standards.
Alice added: “The good news is we can all do our bit to help improve their lives by choosing turkeys with higher welfare labels, such as Freedom Food or free-range. But we need supermarkets to help too, by listening to consumer demand and stocking more of them.”