Published in Meat Science, researchers from Ireland investigated meat consumption trends and identified consumer demands that would shape the future of the industry.
The researchers said meat consumption would continue to grow in light of a generally favourable global economic situation and growing world population.
In particular, they said white meat would overtake red meat in the category. Citing OECD data, they showed that poultry would overtake pigmeat as the most consumed meat in the world by 2022.
Despite this growth, the researchers said meat processors faced the hefty challenge of appealing to consumers in developed markets where animal protein intake would stagnate and concerns over quality rise.
“It will be essential for the meat industry to fully understand how consumers perceive quality and how such perceptions influence their choices, and to determine the most important quality attributes they need to maintain and enhance in existing and new meat products.”
Quality opportunities with on-pack, visual cues
However, the researchers said industry must consider ‘quality’ from a consumer perspective – taking into consideration perceptions and emotional and functional dimensions.
Perceived quality was multidimensional and based on sensory (eating enjoyment), safety, healthiness and convenience, they said. From a consumer standpoint, therefore, manufacturers needed to focus on search, experience and credence, they added.
At the point of purchase – the ‘search’ – quality cues were of great importance, they said, and could be promoted using extrinsic messaging. Use-by dates, quality labels, information on place-of-purchase and origin, as well as production and processing information could all sway quality perception.
“Extrinsic cues offer considerable potential in supporting consumer quality evaluations in light of evolving purchasing motives linked to changing demographics, lifestyles and knowledge, and rising concerns on safety, health, and ethical factors.”
These extrinsic cues were also important in promoting credence, the researchers said.
“Consumers want more of this type of information; (…) the backdrop story for products is becoming increasingly important (making a connection with place, time, environment and people) and the halo effect of process quality can enhance the overall evaluation of the food,” they wrote.
For the experience stage, manufacturers could focus on the pre-consumption time, the researchers said. Convenient meats that could be transformed into a meal quickly, for example, held ‘experience appeal’, they said.
However, convenience promotion should be carefully considered because for many consumers it was indicative of higher processing levels and therefore a less natural product, they said.
Taking a consumer-orientated approach
The future of successful meat marketing would likely be in extrinsic cues as consumers looked for better quality and had increasing focus on health and the environment, the researchers said. It would therefore be vital for industry to understand the personal and context of specific influences on consumer quality perception when designing and developing products, they added.
“It is through adopting a consumer-orientated approach and applying high standards of practice across the supply chain that a range of meats, offering imaginative combinations of experience and credence attributes, will be judged as fulfilling purchase motive.”
Source: Meat Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2014.06.007. November 2014, volume 98, pages 561-568
“Meat consumption: Trends and quality matters”
Authors: M. Henchion, M. McCarthy, VC. Resconi and D. Troy