JOURNAL OF APPLIED ANIMAL RESEARCH, vol.40, no.4, pp.305-310, 2012 (SCI-Expanded)
Welfare of farm animals can be increased greatly if the animal producers are convinced that increased welfare is useful in terms of product quality. Major purpose of this study was to investigate whether animal welfare changed consumer acceptance and scoring of reduced-fat and plain yogurts (PYs) with or without knowledge of the animal welfare. Four products were used, PY made from whole milk collected from high welfare (HW) farm cows, PY from low welfare (LW) farm cows, low-fat (LF) yogurt from HW farm cows and LF yogurt from LW farm cows. Three evaluations were carried out in the Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University campus; tasting yogurt without labels (Test 1), expectation scoring based on pen and paper (Test 2) and tasting with labels and information on the welfare and fat content (Test 3). In Test 1, the subjects accepted the HW better than LW, and PY better than LF yogurt without the knowledge of the yogurts origin or fat content. The taste seems to direct the subjects scoring towards more fat without the worries related to weight loss. In Test 2, subjects scored LF yogurt higher than PY, which was the opposite of Test 1, but they scored HW higher than their Test 1 scores, which were consistent rank wise. This clearly shows that the subjects participating in the study were interested in LF yogurt consciously but liked that taste of the PY better and were also interested in HW products both in terms of taste and ethics. Some of the differences which were not significant in first two tests were highly significant in Test 3 (P<0.01), which means that the scores were more distinctive among the different products, fortified by both information and taste. The PY-HW yogurts were scored the highest, followed by the LF-HW yogurt samples, the PY-LW yogurts and finally the LF-LW yogurts. This illustrates that the taste buds of the subjects were able to affect scoring significantly (PY scored higher than LF yogurt) and information regarding the fat content did not make enough of a difference to change the ranking from the first test. Sensory perceptions regarding animal welfare were strengthened when sensory input was supported with information provided on animal welfare. In all the three tests, the subjects scored the HW yogurts higher than LW yogurts regardless of the fat content, whether they knew the labels or not. However, information provided on welfare increased the consumer scoring significantly, indicating that HW products should be advertised and labelled clearly to increase consumer sensory acceptance and willingness.