British farmers could capitalise on the fact that shoppers are becoming increasingly concerned about animal welfare when buying food, according to the food and grocery think-tank  IGD.

One fifth of shoppers (20%) now say that knowing about the standards of animal welfare has become one of their key drivers of product choice, which is up from 13% in 2008, according to the survey Shopper Trends 2009. 

When asked about concerns they have relating to food production, almost half (46%) of respondents mentioned animal living conditions compared with 38% in 2008.

“As one would expect in the current economic climate, price remains a key driver for shoppers,” said IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch

“However, the stronger focus on standards of animal welfare demonstrates that consumers continue to grow more engaged with their food. People are making well-informed decisions on their food choices and looking for value for money without compromising on their values.

“British farmers employ many world-leading practices in animal welfare, so the growing public interest provides an excellent opportunity to differentiate and gain more shopper loyalty.”

The survey comes in the same week that the RSPCA highlighted a lack of consistency in the labelling of pork products.

It claims only 2% of consumers understand terms such as free-range, outdoor bred and outdoor reared, so a legal set of definitions should be introduced.