Study gives cultural insight to meat market

September 14, 2017

Cultural insights: investigation into how meat preferences differ

New research has given the sheep industry a valuable insight into the meat preferences of other countries.

Dr Liselotte Pannier and PhD student Rachel O’Reilly from Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences led a study to investigate Chinese consumer perceptions of Australian sheep meat.

“China is Australia’s second most valuable sheep meat export market and China’s rapidly growing middle class is demanding higher quality products and better eating experiences,” Dr Pannier said.

“It is important to understand the Chinese market and how consumers respond to more premium quality products cooked using Western style cooking methods, but also to explore the suitability of Australian sheep meat cuts for traditional style Chinese cooking.

“There are significant opportunities for Australia to capitalise on an increasingly large group of consumers who have an interest in food safety, health and wellness.”

Miss O’Reilly and Dr Pannier evaluated the consumer preferences of 720 Chinese consumers for Australian sheep meat cooked in a Chinese hot-pot.

The study used shoulder and leg cuts from lamb and yearling carcasses, which were thinly sliced to 1.6mm and cooked in boiling water for two minutes.

The untrained Chinese consumers then scored each slice for tenderness, juiciness, liking of flavour, overall liking and odour.

“Results provided some interesting insights into Chinese consumer behaviour and demonstrated considerable potential for Australian lamb shoulder cuts to be marketed as a product for hot-pot cooking in China,” Dr Pannier said.

The team also examined the preferences of Australian, American and Chinese consumers for sheep meat cooked using a western grill method.

Short loin and topside cuts were grilled and scored for tenderness, juiciness, liking of flavour, overall liking and odour.

“Interestingly consumers from all three countries scored the meat samples very similarly, indicating that cultural differences play a minimal role in consumer acceptability when consuming sheep meat,” Dr Pannier said.

“These results provide some very helpful insights for the Australian sheep meat industry to tailor export products for these very different markets.”

This research was funded by the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre.

Dr Pannier presented the findings of the study at Murdoch University’s 2017 Agricultural Research Symposium.


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