Department of Management

Animal Welfare and Mountain Products from Traditional Dairy Farms: How Do Consumers Perceive Complexity?

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This qualitative study aims to investigate consumers’ perceptions toward dairy cow welfare in traditional mountain farms. While consumers’ understanding of conventional dairy production and animal welfare has already been investigated, how consumers perceive animal welfare in traditional mountain dairy farming remains still unexplored. Focus group interviews were conducted with consumers having different degrees of geographical proximity to mountains and with an explicit interest in local dairy products. The results of this qualitative study show that participants expect mountain farming to be on a smaller scale when compared to non-mountain farming systems and expect mountain products to be healthier. Similarly, all participants consider origin, locality, and small-scale production as relevant quality attributes of mountain cheese. However, the appreciation of these abstract features did not necessarily result in their recognition when sample pictures of traditional husbandry systems were provided especially in the case of urban participants. This study contributes to reveal the gap between urban consumers’ conception of mountain farming and the actual farming practices. It also indicates the need to promote an effective science-based dialogue on animal welfare that goes beyond an anthropomorphic perspective and tackles the complexity of farming systems in relation to the context in which they are located.
Original languageEnglish
Article number207
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Animal welfare, Consumers’ perception, Dairy cattle, Mountain product, Qualitative research, Small-scale farms

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