Closer to Nature? A Critical Discussion of the Marketing of “Ethical” Animal Products

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (6):1053-1073 (2015)
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Abstract

As public awareness of environmental issues and animal welfare has risen, catering to public concerns and views on these issues has become a potentially profitable strategy for marketing a number of product types, of which animal products such as dairy and meat are obvious examples. Our analysis suggests that specific marketing instruments are used to sell animal products by blurring the difference between the paradigms of animal welfare used by producers, and the paradigms of animal welfare as perceived by the public. These instruments rely on ethical, political and sustainable consumption discourses in order to sell one image of animal welfare in intensive animal production while the actual production at the same time presupposes a quite different paradigm of animal welfare. Specifically, product advertising utilizes representations tied to concepts of naturalness in depictions of both animal lives and product processes as “natural”. Product marketing suggests a coherence between nature, production process, and end product, thereby creating associations that the lives of production animals are lived in nature and that their products bring a wholesome and sustainable naturalness to the consumer—thus attempting to display a green, eco-, climate-, and animal friendly production. By analyzing a number of cases from the Scandinavian food market, this paper thus illustrates the tensions between paradigms of animal welfare and concepts of naturalness as these are used in animal product marketing, discusses the ethical implications of this type of marketing communication, and stresses the need for transparency in the area of animal welfare

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References found in this work

The Lives of Animals.J. M. Coetzee - 1999 - Princeton University Press.
Animal welfare, science, and value.Bernakd E. Rollin - 1993 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1993.
Moral Values and Attitudes Toward Dutch Sow Husbandry.Tamara J. Bergstra, Bart Gremmen & Elsbeth N. Stassen - 2015 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (2):375-401.
Willed Blindness: A Discussion of Our Moral Shortcomings in Relation to Animals.Mickey Gjerris - 2015 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (3):517-532.

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