Support amongst UK pig farmers and agricultural stakeholders for the use of food losses in animal feed.

25 Apr 2018

While food losses (foods which were intended for human consumption, but which ultimately are not directly eaten by people) have been included in animal feed for millennia, the practice is all but banned in the European Union. Amid recent calls to promote a circular economy, we conducted a survey of pig farmers (n = 82) and other agricultural stakeholders (n = 81) at a UK agricultural trade fair on their attitudes toward the use of food losses in pig feed, and the potential relegalisation of swill (the use of cooked food losses as feed). While most respondents found the use of feeds containing animal by-products or with the potential for intra-species recycling (i.e. pigs eating pork products) to be less acceptable than feeds without, we found strong support (>75%) for the relegalisation of swill among both pig farmers and other stakeholders. We fit multi-hierarchical Bayesian models to understand people's position on the relegalisation of swill, finding that respondents who were concerned about disease control and the perception of the pork industry supported relegalisation less, while people who were concerned with farm financial performance and efficiency or who thought that swill would benefit the environment and reduce trade-deficits, were more supportive. Our results provide a baseline estimate of support amongst the large-scale pig industry for the relegalisation of swill, and suggest that proponents for its relegalisation must address concerns about disease control and the consumer acceptance of swill-fed pork.