Swiss consumers’ willingness to pay and attitudes regarding dual-purpose poultry and eggs

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Abstract

Chick culling is an efficient and cost-effective method in modern poultry farming, but it raises ethical concerns. Dual-purpose poultry (DP), in which males are fattened and females are used for egg production, is currently the most realistic alternative to culling, as in ovo sexing is not yet viable for practical application. Consumers’ acceptance of DP products and their willingness to pay (WTP) for them have not been studied yet, and we expect that both aspects are closely related to the acceptance of and WTP for products from systems claiming beyond-conventional animal welfare, such as organic products. Results from a survey conducted among 402 consumers at 8 Swiss supermarkets revealed that the practice of chick culling was largely unknown (75% of respondents). Generally, respondents’ knowledge about poultry production was low. The DP alternative was preferred to chick culling, but no preference emerged between DP and in ovo sexing. Furthermore, the WTP for DP products was proportionally lower for chicken than for eggs, probably because of the different price elasticity between these products. A regression analysis was used to determine the factors influencing consumers’ WTP for DP products. Consumers’ WTP was positively related to knowledge about poultry production, habits tied to purchasing organic or free-range poultry products, and familiarity with DP products. Therefore, a combination of the DP alternative with an organic label is recommended.

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