What do consumers want from NI beef products?

Consumers want beef that is consistent with price, taste and quality.Consumers want beef that is consistent with price, taste and quality.
Consumers want beef that is consistent with price, taste and quality.
​Northern Ireland Beef Week began on 23 April and runs to 30 April.

​The campaign is aimed at promoting beef to the consumer and providing a better understanding of beef production. As farmers, we know the time and resources that go into producing top quality beef, but are we fully aware of what consumers want?

Buying beef

Consumers want beef that is consistent with price, taste and quality. They tend to be influenced when buying beef by factors such as appearance of meat, taste, origin and beef being part of a specific meal. Most consumers want convenience when buying beef products.

In an AHDB report, 25% of consumers claim that local is an important buying factor, however, at purchase this was only 9% of consumers. Despite ongoing education, quality and welfare and standard logos are not well understood by consumers. In the AHDB report it found that 67% of consumers will decide what dinner to cook based on taste, 59% on quality and 42% on suitability for the whole family.

The report found that consumers could use beef all week in meals due to the ease of cooking mince, especially during the week when life can be hectic. At the weekend consumers stated that steak is seen as a treat. A worrying finding showed some consumers have concerns around beef health implications.

Farm Quality Assured

In NI a recent report by LMC found that 90% of consumers enjoy eating red meat, 85% of consumers believed that NIFQA beef is high quality and 77% of consumers agree it is a natural source of vitamins and minerals.

A study by IGD Shoppervista found that 72% of consumers agree that food manufacturers and retailers can be trusted to provide safe products. The FQAS ensures that NI beef is sold with the guarantee that it is a product that is consistently produced to the highest standards. In the UK, the Red Tractor logo represents the same guarantee.

Currently, breed, heifer, steer, bull and age of animal, have little impact on most consumers. Country of origin/local is important to many customers, but in the coming years, how will this compete with cheaper food imports?

Grass fed beef

The Grass Fed Beef PGI is becoming popular, however price tends to be the determining factor. With that said, some consumers will still purchase quality items.

Demand for organic beef is growing and many consumers are looking to purchase beef with health benefits. Beef consumed in a healthy balanced diet is rich in protein source, provides iron and four essential vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12), essential vitamins and minerals and source of zinc.

NI beef farmers will continue to produce high quality beef for consumers despite ongoing challenges with input costs, weather and market prices. Price plays a major role in consumers selecting beef but hopefully through better education such as NI Beef Week, consumers will gain a better understanding of beef production encouraging them to buy local.

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