Happy Hens or Healthy Eggs – A Summative Content Analysis Of How Hens Are Represented In Supermarket Egg Boxes Narratives
How a species is represented by marketers of animal-based products both reflects and shapes how consumers think about that animal. By examining the explicit statements, and implicit messages encoded in the imagery on supermarket egg boxes, this paper explores how hens are represented by whole egg retailers. Samples were collected from supermarket chain websites in the US, the UK, and Germany during March 2017. A summative content analysis reveals two prominent narratives purveyed through eggbox imagery (textual and visual), namely those pertaining to hen welfare and human health. The latter disenfranchises hens from their products by focusing on the nutritional value of eggs, whereas the former reflects a public concern for the welfare of egg-laying hens. Although claims of improvements in welfare practices are undoubtedly exploited as marketing tools, they nevertheless serve to raise awareness and drive competitors to adopt similar practices. Welfare claims are a direct response to public concerns about the plight of hens, and may positively influence industry welfare standards. However, idyllic depictions displayed on eggboxes also lull consumers into the belief that those eggs are an ethically sound food choice, regardless of the actual standard of living experienced by the hens.
Copyright (c) 2021 Kristine Hill
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