Although the welfare of farm animals is increasingly being incorporated into notions of quality within the food chain, this is a rarely an explicit component. Rather, it is bundled in with a number of related environmental, health and territorial ‘goods’ to a create a composite construction of product quality that differentially conceals and makes visible the animal life, and its setting. Drawing upon recent research conducted in France, this paper examines the manner in which these bundled ‘goods’ are assembled during the commercialisation process of animal products and considers the place of animal welfare within that bundling. As a strategy of market segmentation, the differential concealment and valorisation of animal lives within the process of commercialisation, reveals, we argue, food chain actors’ perception of an enduring tension in contemporary social attitudes towards to farm animals and their transformation into meat products which, following Elias, demonstrates not only an ethical pluralism but also a necessary distanciation that issues of welfare are having to confront. As such, the paper identifies the shifting discourses of ‘quality’ that are assembled around the product and the intended meanings as communicated to consumers.
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