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Sune Borkfelt

Closer to Nature: the Ethics of ‘Green’ Representations in Animal Product Marketing

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  • Sune Borkfelt
  • Sara Vincentzen Kondrup, Sektion for Forbrug, Bioetik og Regulering, Denmark
  • Mickey Gjerris, Sektion for Forbrug, Bioetik og Regulering, Denmark
Empirical cases from the Danish food market are examined in order to critically discuss the respective modes of communication in light of the premises of socially responsible consumer marketing. This analysis suggests that specific marketing instruments are used to sell animal products by blurring the difference between the paradigms of animal welfare used by producers, and the paradigms of animal welfare implicit in the public understanding of the concept. These instruments rely on the ethical, political and sustainable consumption discourses in order to sell one image of animal welfare in intensive animal production while the production at the same time presupposes a quite different paradigm of animal welfare. Two cases are used to illustrate this: 1) the Danish dairy company Arla Foods’ campaign with the tagline ‘Closer to Nature’, and 2) selected ‘quality brands’ that present themselves as welfare-oriented alternatives to conventionally produced animal products, but with only marginal improvements. The rhetoric of both cases specifically manifests a deep coherence between nature, farm, animal and end product, and thereby creates associations of production tied to lives living in nature – thus attempting to display a green, eco-, climate-, and animal friendly production. The tension between marketing and the idea of ethical consumerism is apparent as the need for independent information to make value-based choices is challenged by the liberal rules of the market and more specifically by the lack of a restrictive food labelling policy. The relationship between the ways in which animal welfare is communicated and emphasized through food marketing, and commonly held perceptions of acceptable standards for animal welfare, is discussed and the need for transparency in the area of animal welfare stressed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ethics of Consumption: The Citizen, the Market, and the Law
EditorsHelena Röcklinsberg, Per Sandin
Number of pages6
Place of publicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Publication year2013
ISBN (print)978-90-8686-231-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Research areas

  • Advertising, Consumers, Transparency, Naturalness, Animal Welfare

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