The purpose of this study is to assess the differences in individual purchasing and voting decisions for livestock products, produced with lower levels of antibiotic use or higher levels of environmental sustainability, by consumers with different degrees of agreement with moral foundation statements.
Data are collected from two national online surveys that were conducted in Canada in 2016 and 2017, including socio-demographic, attitude, belief and stated choice questions. Data are analysed using hierarchical cluster analysis and ordered probit regressions.
Respondents who strongly agree with the individualizing moral foundation statements are more likely to buy more environmentally sustainable milk/yogurt and pork from pigs that are raised with reduced antibiotic use, as compared to respondents who have weaker agreement with the statements. Respondents with stronger agreement with the moral foundation statements are also more likely to vote in favour of stricter livestock environmental standards and disease protocols.
Monitoring people’s moral concerns might help in predicting consumers’ responses to new or different production practices.
Although moral foundations have been linked to other purchase decisions, in this study, the focus is on specific aspects of environmental sustainability and antibiotic use in livestock production. Both of these challenging issues are controversial and facing either regulatory changes (antibiotic use in livestock) or significant livestock production changes (responding to concerns that livestock production is less sustainable than plant production) in most developed countries. Understanding the linkages between fundamental beliefs and probable consumer behaviour will assist in predicting negative or positive outcomes to the regulatory or industry-based changes to livestock production. Differences between an individual’s desire to be able to identify products with certain attributes for purchase vs an individual’s desire to have government regulate industries to higher standards, in both contexts, will also be linked to the individual’s level of moral foundation beliefs.
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr Janneke de Jonge in the original survey design and the suggestion to include moral foundation beliefs in our study. In addition, the authors would like to acknowledge helpful suggestions from reviewers and also Genome Canada and Genome Alberta who jointly funded this research. The dairy project, “Increasing feed efficiency and reducing methane emissions through genomics: a new promising goal for the Canadian dairy industry”, is registered at the University of Alberta under the number RES0030198 and human ethics approval for the survey is registered as Pro00031096. The pork project , “Application of genomics to improve disease resilience and sustainability in pork production”, is registered at the University of Alberta under the number RES0030284 and human ethics approval for the survey is registered as Pro00081609.
Goddard, E., Muringai, V. and Boaitey, A. (2019), "Moral foundations and credence attributes in livestock production: Canada", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 418-428. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-02-2018-2550Download as .RIS
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