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The Des Moines Register reports that an animal welfare movement is gaining momentum, putting supermarkets and fast food restaurants on notice that it is time for them to change they treat farm animals. If it continues to grow, the paper suggests, it could well have an effect on the prices people pay for meat.

The trend began in 1997 when McDonald's, under pressure from animal rights groups, adopted strict social responsibility standards that regulated the way animals are treated and hormones are used. Similar moves then were made by Burger King, Wendy's, and Safeway.

The Register writes, "There's been a fundamental shift from producers putting out the food and saying to the consumer, 'Take it or leave it,' said Edmond Pajor, a leading animal-welfare researcher at Purdue University. 'Now consumers are saying, 'I want my food cheap, safe and produced in a certain way.' Consumers have more power, more so than they ever used to.'"

Indeed, a recent survey of people in the agriculture business suggested that "animal welfare" was the seventh-ranked "megatrend" facing the industry.
KC's View:
We read somewhere the other day that while the common sentiment used to be "buyer beware," now it is "buyer aware." They were speaking about animal welfare issues, but they might have been.

Consumers are smarter and more passionate about the issues they care about than ever before. Retailers and manufacturers can ill afford to ignore such a trend; rather, it seems to us that it is in their best interests to embrace it and make consumer passion work for them.