PORK FANS would pay 5% more on their weekly grocery bills if pigs were raised to better welfare standards, according to a study of 2000 Northern Irish households.

The study also found that over half of respondents believed welfare issues were not adequately publicised.

That would mean an extra £1/week on an average shopping bill of £40, said author Catherine Glass, who produced the study for the Department of Agriculture.

“We did a survey asking people what sort of surcharge they‘d be prepared to pay on the weekly grocery bill.

“Different amounts were proposed, and they said ‘yes‘ or ‘no‘, which gave us a willingness figure,” she explained.

The improvements the public most wanted to see included giving pigs more space, a more natural environment and better housing.

They would also be happy to pay a small premium to fund future research into improving pig welfare.

“This report clearly states that consumers want to know!” said Ian Campbell, National Pig Association regional manager.

“It is absolutely critical for the future of all livestock production in the UK that this nettle is grasped.

“It should place serious pressure on major retailers to accept their responsibility to only provide products that meet UK legal welfare standards of pig production.

“The alternative is clear labeling on product so that consumers can exercise choice, but that often presents a problem for packaging designers,” he added.

The findings coincide with the launch of a £1m advertising campaign by the British Pig Executive, aimed at highlighting the UK’s high pig welfare standards.