Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation
When purchasing food, many consumers have reported they question the ethical and humane treatment of products derived from animals at the point of purchase. To complicate this issue further, many U.S. consumers lack exposure, interaction, and involvement with the agricultural industry. As a result, they have reported a willingness to pay premium prices for meats, dairy, and eggs whose packaging suggests quality welfare practices. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was three-fold: (1) establish operational definitions for poorly understood poultry industry terms, i.e., cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised, and organic; (2) describe experts’ perceptions of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of poultry industry practices such as packaging, labels, and on-farm welfare practices; and (3) examine the egg production practices that may contribute to consumers’ concerns about hen welfare. To achieve this, I researched the phenomenon through a three-article anthology using a Delphi approach. In the first article, I used consensus building theory (CBT) to achieve consensus using a panel of experts regarding commonly misunderstood terms, i.e., cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised, and organic, used to market eggs to consumers. The second article examined experts’ perceptions of the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of producers raising laying hens for niche markets. In the final article, I aimed to reach a consensus among the study’s selected expert panelists about the egg production practices that may contribute to consumers’ concerns about hen welfare. Findings from this study provided a better understanding of the perspectives of experts in the U.S. egg industry regarding commonly misunderstood egg labeling terms while also creating a case for food marketing and branding agencies to address product differentiation tactics that more effectively benefit consumers. Moving forward, future research should explore these issues more acutely to determine what strategies could be effective to reinvent food marketing ideology and develop more comprehensive food labeling policies.
Powers, Rexanna, "Experts’ Views on Issues Affecting Egg Labeling in the United States: A Delphi Study" (2022). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 5814.