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Question:
Discuss about the Effect of Cage Free Labeling on Consumers Sustainability Consciousness.

 
Answer:
Introduction
Cage Free Labelling

With the increasing need to protect animals and the welfare of the same, egg manufacturers are now labelling their eggs based on how the hen producing the same are treated. The commonly seen labels are the “cage-free”, “certified organic”, “pasture-raised”, “free-range” etc. Cage free labelling in particular refer to poultry that is bred in a bran or an aviary but are not allowed outside (Parker, 2015). This labelling helps the customer understand how the hen have been treated. The initiative has originally begun to allow hen to engage in their natural behavior rather than to be forced to produce under commercial circumstances. Actions such as starving the hen to change laying cycle, cutting of the beaks of hens and killing male poultry due to their inability to reproduce have led to a situation where the commercial producers are now abided by the law to follow certain animal welfare standards that vary from country to country (Jones, 2013). Cage free labelling there by refers to hen that are grown in a barn but are free to walk and engage in other natural behavior without being starved.

 
Consumer Sustainability Consciousness

The consumer is the ultimate reason for the various goods and services being produced. Pleasing the customers is the objective of any given company as the profits incurred are heavily dependent on the same. However, the world today has seen a dramatic change and a rising need to use products that are produced ethically, and in sustainable procedures (Pohjolainen, 2016). Customers today are conscious of their purchases due to the imbalance in the eco-system, the constant changes in the environment and the damage being made to local communities in exchange for raw materials. The era of industrialization proved to come up with its own set of difficulties and to eradicate the same, the concepts of fair trade, local-produce, organic produce etc., are being encouraged.

The sense of owing person responsibility to the changes in the environment, the need to purchase ethical products and be a part of a revolutionary product is the driving force of customers today as they grow conscious of the results of their purchases (Sassatelli, 2015). The rise in organic food production is one of the best example for the same. This is the key for the various producers around the world to move to manufacture sustainable products. Consumer Sustainability Consciousness is a psychological behavior which enables the customer to be aware of their part in helping the world be a better place.

Effects of Cage Free Labelling on Consumer Sustainability Consciousness

The consumers today have become far more aware of each and every purchase they make. The fitness revolution is one of the reason for the same. Consumers are conscious of what they eat, the source of the food, the ingredients, chemicals used, fertilizers used and so on. The same is also encouraged due to the ongoing efforts of people being responsible for their role in a sustainable environment. This includes the products they purchase. Customers make sure that they purchase only those products that are close to their beliefs. A Muslim would not by a product that is not halal or a vegan would not buy a product that has any form of dairy in it.  Label reading has hence become a common action when purchasing a product to ensure that they purchase the right kind. Labelling has hence become a key in helping customers pick a product.

With the growing need for animal welfare, several activists had made sure that the poultry being grown is not harshly treated for the purpose of commercial gain. Cage free labels thereby ensure a customer that the source of the eggs have been allowed to breed in their natural habitat. They are not forced to reproduce but are left to reproduce as per their own laying cycles. Hence when a customer picks an egg with the cage-free label on the same, the consumer is ensured on the way the producers of the same are being treated.

 
Research
Research Related to Cage Free Labelling

With all the variety of labels being used today it actually gets pretty confusing for the customer to understand their significance. A detailed analysis of why the cage free eggs are to be purchased is presented in several articles to help consumers purchase the right products (Matthews, 2015). An article from Vox media lists out why cage free eggs have to be used and the general comparison between these and the regular eggs. The FDA itself has taken a keen interest in making sure that the labelling of cage-free eggs is done in accordance to pre-defined norms to notify the customer of the purchase. Another article published by the business insider has listed out the difference between the various kinds of labelling and the understanding of each of this labelling. The awareness today is being spread responsibly by both the media and the producers themselves. There is also significant research done to understand if there is any nutritional benefits of consuming cage free eggs. The answer is debatable as some claim that the cage-free eggs have no nutritional value in regards to fatty acid, cholesterol, and vitamin A and E composition (Anderson et al., 2011). While there are other reports that claim the contrary (Joanna, 2003).

 
Research Related to Consumer Sustainability Consciousness

This concept is gaining rapid importance as the consumers inclination towards sustainable products is constantly growing. A famous article called cannibals with forks may the beginning for research in this topic tapping the humane part of the brain of consumers. This concept in general is believed to be a five dimensional construct of Sense of Retribution, Access to Information, Labelling and Peer Pressure, Health Issues and Crisis Scenario. This is commonly integrated with the “triple bottom line” perspective of services (de, 2015). Research has also been made to understanding the economic dimensions that would be influenced by consumer’s sustainable consumption (Balderjahn et al., 2013).

Research Done in Understanding the Effects of Cage Free Labelling on Consumer Sustainability Consciousness

There is a significant interest in the recent years to understand if how labelling effects the purchase pattern of a consumer. A paper published in Journal of Food Distribution Research had tried to analyze Consumer Responses to Multiple and Superfluous Label especially in the Case of Eggs (Yan, 2016). Surveys have been conducted to understand if labelling indeed have any effects of the purchasing patterns of customers. There is also research being done if the consumers prefer the labelling and if they actually prefer cage free eggs. However, the activity in these area is low currently.

 
The Gap

There is a tremendous gap in understanding if the labelling and the cage-free treatment of hens actually effect the consciousness of a consumer. Egg is not only consumed as whole, it is usually consumed through several other food products such as mayonnaise and bakery items. How this influences the conscious of the consumers is unknown. There is little or no research made in these lines. This is again due to the new labelling system which had been in place just a few months before. However, there is significant interest in understating this gap and help consumers use goods of their choice, and help organizations increase their sales by producing the right products

Conclusion

The increasing need to use products that are ethically manufactured amongst customers due to sustainability consciousness has helped organizations move into sustainable products. The rise in the animal welfare and protection has also resulted in ensuring that food products especially those derived from animals are produced in their natural habitat rather than commercial conditions. This has led to concepts of cage free breeding of hen and the eggs procured being labelled to make customers aware of the same to ensure that the customers are provided with the right products.

 
References

Anderson, K.E., State, N.C., 7608, R. 27695 - and ken _anderson (2011) ‘Comparison of fatty acid, cholesterol, and vitamin A and E composition in eggs from hens housed in conventional cage and range production facilities’, Poultry Science, 90(7), pp. 1600–1608. doi: 10.3382/ps.2010-01289.

Balderjahn, I., Buerke, A., Kirchgeorg, M., Peyer, M., Seegebarth, B. and Wiedmann, K.-P. (2013) ‘Consciousness for sustainable consumption: Scale development and new insights in the economic dimension of consumers’ sustainability’, Academy of Marketing Science Review, 3(4). doi: http//dx..org/10.1007/s13162-013-0057-6.

Brodwin, E. (2013) 9 misleading food labels that probably don’t mean what you think. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/9-misleading-food-labels-that-probably-dont-mean-what-you-think/articleshow/49141358.cms (Accessed: 26 August 2016).

de Carvalho, B.L., de Fátima Salgueiro, M. and Rita, P. (2015) ‘Consumer sustainability consciousness: A five dimensional construct’, Ecological Indicators, 58, pp. 402–410. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.05.053.c

Farm Animal Welfare: An assessment of Product Labelling Claims, industry quality assurance guidelines and thrid party certification standards (no date) Available at: https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/06p0394/06p-0394-cp00001-15-Tab-13-Farm-Animal-Welfare-01-vol1.pdf (Accessed: 26 August 2016).

Joanna Lot (2003) Pasture-ized Poultry. Available at: https://news.psu.edu/story/140750/2003/05/01/research/pasture-ized-poultry (Accessed: 26 August 2016).

Jones, D.R. and Anderson, K.E., 2013. Housing system and laying hen strain impacts on egg microbiology. Poultry science, 92(8), pp.2221-2225.

Matthews, D. (2015) Cage-free, free range, organic: What all those egg labels really mean. Available at: https://www.vox.com/2015/12/25/10662742/egg-labels-cage-free (Accessed: 26 August 2016).

Parker, C. and De Costa, J., 2015. Misleading the ethical consumer: The regulation of free-range egg labelling.

Pohjolainen, P., Tapio, P., Vinnari, M., Jokinen, P. and Räsänen, P., 2016. Consumer consciousness on meat and the environment—Exploring differences. Appetite, 101, pp.37-45.

Sassatelli, R., 2015. Consumer Culture, Sustainability and a New Vision of Consumer Sovereignty. Sociologia Ruralis, 55(4), pp.483-496.

Yan Heng, Hikaru Hanawa Peterson and Xianghong Li (2016) ‘Consumer Responses to Multiple and Superfluous Labels’, Journal of Food Distribution Research, 47(2), pp. 62–82.

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