Consumer Perceptions of Organic Meats

October 27/Fayetteville, Ark./Journal of Technology & Science -- "Because of the growing consumers' interest in organic meat, consumers' (N = 976) attitude toward organic meat was evaluated. Most respondents (59%) occasionally purchased organic chicken," scientists in the U.S. report.

"To determine the organic chicken consumer profile, the organic chicken consumption frequencies of different demographic groups were compared. The results show dependence on age (P = 0.039) and ethnicity (P = 0.015). Older respondents as well as respondents who identified themselves as Caucasians tended to buy organic chicken more frequently. However, many other socio-demographic factors were not correlated with organic chicken consumption: gender (P = 0.185), education (P = 0.235), household income (0.867), living with partner or not (P = 0.235), and number of children (P = 0.883). Taste was identified as the most important meat quality attribute (perceived as [very] important by 94% of the respondents). Other important meat quality criteria were: general appearance, overall health, price, nutritional value, and containing no medical residues. ''Organically produced'' appeared to not be that important compared with other criteria. When respondents bought organic chicken more often, the importance of most of the meat quality attributes shifted to higher levels of importance, except for the price where an adverse effect was shown. The main motivation factors to buy organic chicken were the perception that organic chicken has fewer residues (pesticides, hormones, antibiotics), is safer and healthier. The high price for organic meats was the strongest limiting factor for organic meat purchases followed by poor availability. Approximately 41% of the non-buyers and 30% of the occasional buyers perceived organic meat as not or hardly likely to be available in their supermarket. Practical Application This study obtained a better knowledge of consumers' attitudes and perception of organic chicken as well as the effect of various demographics on the likelihood of buying organic chicken. For marketing purposes of organic meats, it helps to know which attributes consumers perceive as important, where the consumer purchases organic chicken, and what the perceived availability of organic chicken is. Additionally, the motivation and deterrent factors are described indicating why the consumer does or does not purchase organic chicken," wrote E. Vanloo and colleagues, University of Arkansas.

The researchers concluded, "This information can be valuable to help promoting organic meats to the consumers."

Vanloo and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Food Science ("Effect of Organic Poultry Purchase Frequency on Consumer Attitudes Toward Organic Poultry Meat." Journal of Food Science, 2010;75(7):S384-S397).

For additional information, contact S.C. Ricke, University of Arkansas, Dept. of Food Science, Fayetteville, AR 72704.

From the November 15, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition