Where’s the beef?

The “Meatless Monday” movement has captured Diane McCann-Hiltz’s attention.

Diane McCann-Hiltz

The “Meatless Monday” movement has captured Diane McCann-Hiltz’s attention.

A consumer market specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, McCann-Hiltz isn’t about to start her weeks off as a vegetarian. But she’s wondering if the international movement — which is seeking to reduce people’s meat consumption by 15 per cent — has legs.

“We’re watching this closely to see what impact it will have.”

McCann-Hiltz described a number of factors influencing consumers’ meat-purchasing habits during a presentation at the Capturing Feed Grain & Forge Opportunities conference in Red Deer on Wednesday.

Small price changes, she said, doesn’t have a significant impact on shoppers at the meat counter. So it’s important that red meat industries don’t give consumers non-price reasons to switch.

“These non-price reasons could include food safety concerns, health information and convenience, as well as sustainability and animal welfare issues,” she said.

In recent years, environmental and economic sustainability, and animal welfare have become more important, observed McCann-Hiltz. Similarly, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the working conditions and wages of those who produce their food.

When it comes to health, perceived links between fat consumption and heart disease have translated into reduced beef consumption, she said. And sodium content is likely to become a growing concern going forward.

Surveys of consumers in Canada and the United States indicate that freshness, leanness, price, colour and tenderness are the biggest determinants when it comes to buying beef. In Japan, the top five factors are freshness, country of origin, price, safety assurance and colour; while in Mexico freshness, colour, price, flavour and safety assurance head the list.

McCann-Hiltz noted more than 80 per cent of Canadian and American consumers consider beef safe, but the figure is only 48 per cent in Japan and 50 per cent in Mexico.

More people also want to know where their food comes from.

McCann-Hiltz stressed that consumers are heterogeneous, so you can’t generalize.

“We’re very different in terms of our demographics and in terms of our values.”

However, Americans are much greater consumers of meat than Canadians, with 2008 per capita consumption of poultry south of the border at 53 kg, as compared to 38.1 kg in Canada. In the case of beef, American consumption averaged out to nearly 41 kg a person, versus 29 kg in Canada. For pork, the figures were more than 35 kg in the U.S. and 23.5 kg here.

The exception was lamb, of which more is consumed per person in Canada.

McCann-Hiltz noted that most Canadians are already eating more protein than they require, so market growth in the future will have to depend on export markets or getting consumers to switch from other types of meat.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Castor man dies in crash

Thursday morning collision on Hwy 12

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Study of U.S. hospital figures links pot use with increased risk of stroke

MONTREAL — New research is being presented at a conference in Montreal… Continue reading

Leon Draisaitl has overtime winner as Edmonton Oilers down Boston Bruins 3-2

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for the overtime winner… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

Most Read