Consumers Prefer Local Beef

UK - Consumers consider locally-sourced meat to be the top of their shopping list when eating out, a survey by EBLEX, the English beef and lamb levy board has found.
calendar icon 21 December 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

And they are happy to accept inconsistencies in the shape and trim of their cut in exchange for peace of mind over provenance.

The study, undertaken by Pathway Research on behalf of EBLEX, looked at the hierarchy of key purchase drivers for choice of meat on the menu, as well as expectations of appearance on the plate for premium beef and lamb products.

Unsurprisingly, the research showed that taste is the most important factor when it comes to reasons for choosing beef or lamb from the menu, closely followed by texture and cut. For beef, size, trim and preparation were rated next most important, and for lamb it was type of dish, country of origin, trim and, last but not least, price.

Shape and size are considered important indicators of value-for-money. Respondents felt that the meat needs to be well butchered, an appropriate size for the cut, with just enough fat to give it the required flavour. But they made the point that while uniformity is expected when ordering from ‘mainstream’ branded chain restaurants, they don’t expect the same degree of ‘perfection’ for locally sourced meat.

When asked whether it was better to highlight country of origin or not, respondents clearly felt that it was, commenting that ‘people deserve to know where their meat comes from’. Indeed, sourcing locally ticks several boxes, they believed: it supports the UK economy and farming industry; it shows environmental responsibility - and with less food miles to travel, the meat is bound to be fresher; and it provides an indication of superior animal welfare standards.

Foodservice project manager for EBLEX, Hugh Judd, said: “The findings are fascinating. People clearly expect inconsistencies in shape and size when it comes to locally or regionally sourced meat because ‘it has been prepared by the butcher down the road’. They also expect the colour to be different because in their minds the meat is ‘fresher’ and ‘more natural’. A higher level of fat is also acceptable as they perceive the animal to have had a better diet and a longer life. And they believe that breed of species can be an indication of superior quality, though only a few popular breeds, such as Aberdeen Angus, were recognised.

“Ultimately, the research showed that consumers put their trust in the chef to serve good quality ingredients in his or her establishment. Although provenance may not be high up the list in the overall decision-making process for choosing beef or lamb on the menu, when it comes to motivating menu claims, eating quality and ‘locally produced’ both rank highly.”

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