Because the treatment of animals used in production processes involves ethical principles as well as food safety, this subject is increasingly a focus of institutional debate. This article examines the organisational and consumer communication strategies for animal welfare by processing operators in zootechnic chains and by retailing in Italy. It classifies different degrees of commitment to animal welfare. In fact, it appears that there is a level of opportunistic behaviour on the part of some players, who publicise their products as AW friendly even if they have limited or no involvement with the treatment of animals. There are two other categories of behaviour: "active" and "reactive". Active behaviour occurs where processing and retailing company policies require additional procedures that are more stringent than those required by law. The "reactive" category limits the involvement of processing and / or retailing to the requirement that raw materials comply with standards to ensure the legality of the product on the market. This classification could be a starting point for institutional intervention. On the one hand, the "active" behaviour shows that AW can be used as a tool for the organisational renewal of supply chain mechanisms. On the other hand, the need for market recognition of AW becomes clear as necessary step for implementation of EU AW policy. Greater market awareness of AW friendly techniques would increase consumer willingness to pay and producer interest in AW friendly techniques.
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