AHDB has explored the shopping habits of 25,000 consumers across three continents to identify potential opportunities and challenges for red meat exporters in the UK.
In its most extensive research into international buying behaviours, AHDB has been able to evaluate the purchase drivers of shoppers in 17 different markets across Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.
The research not only compares the priorities for buyers of red meat across the different regions, but it also takes an in-depth look at how consumers view British meat compared to domestic products, as well as how often it’s purchased in different markets.
The findings allow AHDB to identify markets where British red meat can play to its strengths to meet the needs of consumers, as well as explore why it underperforms in other markets.
Also, by having a greater understanding of consumer buying behaviours, industry can identify which messages should be amplified in different markets pulling on levers where British meat is well positioned but importantly communicate on the topics which consumers have said are important when purchasing meat.
AHDB Senior Consumer Insight Manager Steven Evans said: “This is the first time we have been able to explore and compare the buying behaviours of consumers across three continents in this depth – giving us a much broader understanding of what consumers look for when buying red meat and where our products sit within that market and the ability to look at trends within individual countries within the regions.
“This is a valuable piece of research for exporters as we are able to provide crucial insight into new and existing markets to help our levy payers make the most of any potential opportunities overseas.”
The research is based on a study AHDB commissioned with consumer research agency Two Ears One Mouth, which saw 25,000 meat-eating consumers across the three continents take part in an online quantitative survey.
When buying red meat, quality, price and taste came out as the three overarching factors for shoppers globally – but they rank in varying orders of importance across different continents, countries and cities.
For example, in China – the UK’s largest export market for pork – the key factors are food safety, quality and health, whereas in Mexico, which opened its doors to British pork for the first-time last year, the priorities are quality, taste and price.
And while quality is the most influential factor in all areas of the study, what signifies quality is unique to the consumer and can encompass further factors such as product taste, highlighting the need for messages to be shaped towards the individual country.
Steven added: “Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just saying a good quality product will perform well in a chosen market, as quality means different things to different people.
“For example, a consumer in Southeast Asia would predominantly look for food safety as the main indicator of quality red meat, whereas in Europe food safety is an assumed aspect of red meat products, so it sits lower down the list of quality indicators – with factors such as taste and appearance being of greater importance.
“While it’s clear that the approach should not be a ‘one size fits all’, there is the opportunity to differentiate British red meat products from the rest of the crowd by expanding on the factors which sit under the key overarching themes.”
And while the research shows there are many opportunities for beef, lamb and pork in all three continents, the current reality is that British food products remain relatively niche and more needs to be done to highlight the positive attributes of red meat from the UK.