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Top 11 values consumers use when buying beef

by Beef Central, 19 February 2014

Safety and freshness top the values consumers use when buying beef, according to a Kansas State University survey. A national online survey of consumers in the United States conducted by Kansas State University has identified freshness and safety as the values consumers consider most important when buying popular livestock products.

The survey involved 1950 respondents, with each asked to rank the importance they placed on 11 values when choosing four livestock products – milk, ground beef, beef steak and chicken breast.

The values were freshness, health, hormone-free/antibiotic-free, animal welfare, taste, price, safety, convenience, nutrition, origin and environmental impact.

Safety and freshness were rated as the most important, while the values of environmental impact, animal welfare, origin and convenience were rated as less important in the survey.

KSU professor and livestock economist, Ted Schroeder, said the findings were consistent with prior research conducted via a mail-out survey involving 176 respondents in 2009, which examined consumers’ general food values.

Prof Schroeder said identifying the level of importance consumers place on different values when selecting food allowed for food producers and distributors to better meet the needs of their end user.

“It’s about a host of things that might go through consumers’ minds as they purchase a product,” he said. “As you compile those into a list, how do they rank? And, do they rank the same for different products?”

The prior research by Lusk and Briggeman in 2009 found that safety, nutrition, taste, price and natural were the top five values consumers desired out of the 11 total values assessed for general food products.

Prof Schroeder said he and his graduate students wanted to see if similar results could be found when consumers considered buying specific livestock products.

Safety was the most important value in the 2009 general food products study, and it was either first or second most important in the most recent survey for milk, ground beef, beef steak and chicken breast.

Freshness was the other top value for livestock products.

In contrast, the values of environmental impact, animal welfare, origin and convenience were less important for the livestock products, which was comparable to the prior research.

Price fell in the middle of the list, K-State graduate Marcus Brix, who worked on the study, said.

He said the study showed that consumers do not necessarily have presumed trust in food safety.

“A majority of consumers still question some things about their food,” he said. “If they think that one product is more safe than another at a different price point, they are going to be less responsive to the price and more responsive to the product freshness or safety of said product.”

Prof Schroeder said the study’s findings reflected the high importance consumers placed in food products that delivered a high-quality eating experience.

“Freshness, nutritional components and health attributes are desirable, and consumers absolutely demand a product that is safe,” he said. “These are messages we’ve been saying for a long time, and they’ve shown up remarkably strong across all four of these particular products.”

The social values, including animal welfare, environmental impact and origin, for example, aren’t irrelevant, Schroeder said.

“Some segments of society hold those as more important than others, but overall they aren’t the major drivers that lead the average consumer to purchase a particular product.

“Understanding some of these consumer food value preferences helps the food industry know where to focus its marketing and production energy to ensure that high-quality eating experience.”

A research paper explaining all of the findings from the livestock products consumer survey is available on the KSU website here.

 

How consumer values ranked:


Ground beef

  1. Safety
  2. Freshness
  3. Taste
  4. Health
  5. Nutrition
  6. Hormone/Antibiotic free
  7. Price
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Origin/Traceability
  10. Environmental impact
  11. Convenience


Beef steak

  1. Freshness
  2. Safety
  3. Taste
  4. Price
  5. Nutrition
  6. Health
  7. Hormone/Antibiotic free
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Environmental impact
  10. Convenience
  11. Origin/Traceability

 

Source: Kansas State University

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