Not only do consumers like to know that the meat they order in pubs and restaurants has been locally sourced, they are also much more accepting of inconsistencies in the shape and trim of the cut if they know that it is from a local supplier, according to the survey.
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. Three separate focus groups of ABC1 consumers of mixed gender, life-stage and ethnicity took place in London, Birmingham and Manchester during October.
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.
Eblex foodservice project manager for Eblex Hugh Judd, said: “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.”