Consumer acceptance in EU and 3rd countries of meat from non-surgically castrated male pigs

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    To which degree do (European) consumers accept pork with boar taint (i.e. an off-odour from meat of some entire boars)? Which factors besides taste play a role in their attitude towards alternatives to surgical castration? ILVO is involved in this European study to answer these questions. Similar measurements are being done in several participating countries. The odour called “boar taint” is caused mainly by skatole and androstenone. Previous studies have revealed that not everyone is equally sensitive to these compounds, and that this sensitivity can vary from country to country. This study represents a first step towards threshold levels agreed upon at the European level. The European pig industry has volunteered to stop non-anesthetised surgical castration of piglets by 2018. One alternative to castration is to raise entire male pigs, with the small but possible risk of boar taint.

    Research approach
    A reliable trial setup is designed to evaluate consumer acceptance of meat from entire male pigs. Based on this design, harmonised consumer studies are performed in several European countries and two non-EU countries that are important for the export of European pork. The results of the consumer study are associated with the results for sensitivity to the boar taint compounds and the consumers’ attitudes toward the production of pork and alternatives to castration without anesthesia. This project exposes to which extent differences between consumers of different countries need to be taken into account in terms of perception and sensitivity to boar taint.


    The study is part of the potential shift to the production of entire male pigs, which is only possible if this meat is accepted by consumers. The study provides essential information regarding the maximum tolerable levels of boar taint and whether these levels differ between countries. It will answer the question ”at which levels of androstenone and / or skatole does the consumer perceive a different smell?”. At the same time, the project will provide clarity about which other factors besides the aspect of 'taste' plays a role in consumer attitudes in relation to the alternatives to surgical castration. The study results are of great value to policy and for market choices for pork production and trade.


    Funding provider(s)

    External partner(s)
    Centro Ricerche Produzioni Animali
    Institut de Recerca I Technologia Agreoalimentaries
    Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO)
    Effective start/end date21/12/1220/06/14