‘Brighter spotlight’ needed on health benefits of red meat

The health benefits of red meat and dairy products needs to be highlighted more, according to research by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). 

The consumer research, on health and nutritional messaging, examined how aware consumers are of the health messaging around beef, lamb and dairy, and investigated the reactions of buyers to specific health claims.

In particular, the research confirmed consumers’ growing appetite for and attention on the health benefits of red meat, concluding that the behaviours at the moment of purchase can be influenced with appropriate and effective nutritional communication.

The research found that, if communicated better, consumption of beef would increase among 50% of its consumers, 48% for lamb and 51% for dairy.

It also found that a significantly greater number of younger consumers limited their consumption of red meat for health reasons than older consumers - 39% vs 33%. Meanwhile, a significantly greater number of younger consumers bought alternatives to red meat than older consumers - 51% vs 31%.

Steven Evans, AHDB consumer insight manager, said: “There is increasing interest from consumers towards learning more about the health benefits of including red meat and dairy products in their diets. Many consumers claimed they would be likely to increase their consumption of beef, lamb and dairy following exposure to the health messages they saw, but this is higher among those who already buy the products.

“This indicates that positive health messages could be a good way of promoting these products and convincing people to buy into these categories. People want to know how to gain the health benefits. Knowing how much of something should be eaten to gain a health benefit is something people would like to know and be guided on.”

Laura Ryan, AHDB’s strategy director for Beef & Lamb, said: “AHDB has been working tirelessly for the promotion of the health benefits of red meat — not least, with the publication of three guides, one for beef, one for lamb and one for pork, telling health professionals, retailers and producers exactly what nutritional claims can be made about red meat.”

“In this way, AHDB can help consumers understand why the consumption of lean beef as part of a healthy balanced diet can legitimately be promoted as making a positive contribution to the diet and health. For example, beef is naturally rich in protein, low in sodium and provides eight vitamins and minerals that contribute towards good health and wellbeing.”

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