Researchers from the University of Florence questioned 1500 Italian consumers on their preferences for difference cuts of meat over other factors, such as price, production or origin labelling.
“Across all consumers, cut was identified as the most important choice driver for beef meat, legitimating further research into consumer preferences for meat cuts, including other species than beef. The majority of consumers had a strong preference for particular meat cuts [and] these consumers are unlikely to switch to different cuts even if price is reduced.”
The researchers had hypothesised that origin certification or price discounts could be used to lure consumers to switch from more noble cuts, such as steak, to less premium cuts like cutlets or ground beef, but this was not the case.
“Segmentation [of the results] shows that more than half of the population considered the cut the most important driver when choosing beef,” they wrote.
There were clear implications for retailers, wrote the researchers.
“Retailers should remember that not all consumers care about quality, environmental, and GMO-free certifications. These qualities, which are nevertheless appreciated by approximately 40% of the population, are not the only qualities consumers look for. There's still another 60% of population, who is just interested about the cut, the origin of the meat, and the breed, so retailers should make sure they have a part of their meat section, which is flagged to consumers by simply communicating about these three characteristics.”
1500 participants, representative of the Italian population in terms of age, gender and geographic location, first completed a questionnaire to select the study subjects and define socio-demographic, place of purchase and frequency of beef consumption. The second questionnaire measured DCE – subjects were asked which meat cut they would choose for an everyday and special occasion, and were presented with the five variables plus a no-choice option.
Three types of cut were studied – steak, minced beef and cutlet. Mince and steaks were further divided as either lean or more than 30% fat, with fatty mince considered a lower quality cut while fat-marbled steak is seen as more tender.
Scozzafava et al. also convened a focus group, made up of organic and conventional beef producers and representatives from supermarkets, consumer association directors and a butcher’s association, to identify key attributes that consumers
The group decided that animal welfare was not a potential element that affected consumer preferences in Italy and so was replaced with animal breed, along with price, trademarks and origin (PGI or PDO) and production techniques.
The researchers pointed out that the study was carried out in Italy, where food is deeply-rooted in culture, meaning the importance given to specific meat cuts could be higher than other countries. They call for further research in other countries.
Source: Appetite Journal
First published online 9 September 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.004
“Using the animal to the last bit: Consumer preferences for different beef cuts”
Authors: Gabriele Scozzafava, Armando Maria Corsi, et al