Consumers perception on meat and meat products is critical issue for the meat industry because it has direct influence on profitability. Many studies have concluded that consumers perception is both complex, dynamic and diffcult to define (Issanchou, 1996). The process influencing the consumers to accept certain meat or meat products is multi-dimensional. It is not always simple to establish the connection between the physiological perception and reaction of the consumer. Response of the consumer, in case of food, is not only based on sensory properties of the product and its physical status, but it is also associated with other factors, such as previous knowledge, previous experience, as well as, consumers’ attitudes and believes. People may utilize the same product and service features for very different reasons (Akaer and Maheswaran, 1997; Bagozzi and Dholakia, 1999; Sheth et al., 2000). Many factors determine the quality of meat. However, the two factors that consumers look after are the intrinsic and extrinsic quality cues of the meat. Meat quality describes how much meat is attractive to consumers. Meat must look good to consumers before satisfying their palate when they decide to buy it. Once the meat is bought, cooked, and served, the aroma, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor must meet the expectations (Aberle et al., 2001).
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 MEAT QUALITY
According to research done by Paul Allen of Ashtown Food Research Centre, he said that ” There is no universal definition about meat quality. The definition of meat quality means different things to different people either between and also within countries or regions. It involves different criteria at each stage of production time and it will change over time.”
2.2 CONSUMERS’ PERCEPTION
Perception is defined as the act of apprehending by means of the senses and/or the mind (www. dictionary.reference.com ). Also, perception is the conscious recongnition and interpretation of sensory stimuli, that serve as a basis for understanding, learning, and knowning, or for motivating a paricular action or reaction (www.medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary. com). Behaviour is strongly influenced by psychological factor of perception. Consumer can not be categorized by one type of the behaviour, because it is shaped by their needs. But behaviour is strongly infl uenced by pshylogical factor of perception. Some of our non-cognitive mechanisms such as conditioning and imitation are predominant in the early formation of food habits (Troy and Kerry, 2010). Various models and theories have been developed and are discussed by Koster and Mojet (2007). They concluded that consumer perceptions are not fixed and may change. Therefore, consumers’ perceptions are very dynamic, and there are often differences between what consumers’ perceived.
2.3 FACTORS AFFECTING CONSUMER PERCEPTION ON MEAT QUALITY
Main factors or quality cues that most contributes to the consumers’ perception on beef meat quality are the intrinsic and extrinsic quality cues.
Cues are pieces of information used to form quality expectations (Steenkamp, 1990).
2.3.1 INTRINSIC QUALITY CUES
Intrinsic quality cues involves physical characteristics of the beef meat, means that the charecteristics that can be seen objectively such as color, visible fat content tenderness, juiciness, freshness, healthiness and also nutrition.
In the mind of the average consumer about purchase meat, color becames synonimus with fresh red meat quality (Renerre, 1990). The color of fresh meat is of the most important in meat marketing science, because it is the first quality attribute seen by consumer who uses it as an indication of freshness. At the point of sale, color and color stability are the most important attributes of meat quality and various commercial approaches have been used to meat consumers’ expetation. Also, attractive bright red colour is compatibile with long shelf life and good eating quality (Hood and Mead, 1993). Discoloured meat can not be sold unless it is significantly discounted or minced (Sherbeck et al., 1995).
Fat content is actually not a good predictor of the quality aspects consumers are interested in, and to the extent it is, it is the opposite of what consumers suppose. A certain degree of marbling actually contributes to tenderness, taste and juiciness, whereas consumers seem to think it detracts from it. Thus, the formation of expectations about taste, tenderness and juiciness mainly based on fat attributes is actually disfunctional. The high degree of importance attached to buying from a butcher shows that consumers prefer to entrust the purchase decision to an expert, who would be more capable of predicting the outcome of the meal than themselves(Klaus G. Grunert, Lone Bredahl, Karen Brunso, 2003)
High level of myoglobin darken the meat. This shows that meat was aging. Meat aging greatly affected meat tenderness. When the connective tissue in meat is diluted during period of rapid growth, toughness of meat occured. Most of the customers’ thought that dark meat has low quality and less tender compared to fresh red and bright meat color. Other than that, meat tenderness also affected by pre and post slaughter factors.
Health is a quality dimension that has become very important to many consumers, and a number of studies indicate that, today, health is as important as taste, and that consumers form preferences based on this dimension motivated by expectations of both a longer life and one of higher quality (Roininen, Tuorila, Zandstra, de Graaf & Vehkalahti, 2001). Karen Brunso, Thomas Ahle Fjord and Klaus G. Grunert said in their Working paper no 77, ISSN 0907 210, June 2002, “Here, we regard health-oriented food quality as how consumers perceive a food product will affect their health. This includes functional qualities of foods, but consumers are also concerned about safety and risk-related issues. Health-related qualities are mostly credence characteristics, since the consequences for one’s health of eating a specific food is a matter of trust, and can seldom be ascertained after consumption. In recent years, consumers have attached increasing importance to the way food is produced, that is the production process has become a dimension of quality, even when it has no immediate bearing on the taste or healthiness of the product. This quality dimension covers organic production, production that takes animal welfare into consideration, and production without the use of GMOs. Much of consumer interest in the production process focuses on ‘naturalness.’ This quality dimension is also a credence characteristic, since the consumer must rely totally on guarantees about production-oriented quality from various sources.”
Nutritional information is one of the main factor in consumers’ decision in purchase meat and meat products. The relationship between nutritional awareness and the demand for a product depends on consumers’ knowledge of the nutrition in relations to the attributes of the product (Kenkel, 1990). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) require the food label offer complete, useful and accurate nutritional information; easy to read formats; amount per serving of saturated fat; cholesterol, dietary fi bre and other nutritients of major health concern, and nutritient reference values, expressed as percentage of daily requirements (FDA, 2003). Nutrition labelling is particulary valuable to consumers because there is no other way for consumers to evaluate the nutritional content of the food they are buying.
2.3.2 EXTRINSIC QUALITY CUE
Extrinsic quality cues include characteristics that are related to the product, but are not physically part of it (Olson, 1977) such as price, brand name, place of origin, type of outlet, presentation, influence of store personnel, promotion, packaging, advertising, are determined by marketing efforts(Steenkamp, 1989). Based on the results of the focus group and the existing research related to buying beef, some perceived extrinsic quality cues: price, promotion, brand and designation of origin and also product presentation(Laurentino Bello Acebron, Domingo Calvo Dopico, 1999).
There have been many studies in which the in¯uence of price as a reliable indicator of quality has been analysed and contrasted (see Olson, 1977, for a complete review of literature). Price appears as a relevant cue when consumers do not have adequate information about intrinsic quality cues, or when it is the only available cue (Zeithaml, 1988). Although in several studies the association between price and perceived quality is not pronounced, varying greatly according to products and individuals (Gardner, 1970), most of studies have found that price and quality are positively related (Dodds, Monroe & Grewal, 1991; Rao & Monroe, 1989). Therefore, the price has a positive influence on expected quality. The greater the price, the greater the consumers’ perception in puchasing the meat.
The way in which different distribution outlets promote a given product can make consumers perceive the same product in a different way, depending on whether it is placed on special offer or not. We have included the promotion – whether it is a special offer – as an extrinsic cue that can be used by the consumer to infer beef quality. As we explained above, the price exerts a positive influence on expected quality, but the special offer – prices below actual price – is associated with less quality. From the above explanation, we can say that promotion of the product exerts negative influence to the consumers in purchasing their beef meat when the
Brand and Designation of Origin
Spanish law defines designation of origin as “a guarantee that the product conforms to certain specified conditions of geographic origin, identity, homogeneity and reference.” Some previous research has supported the eâ‚¬ects of brand names on the perception of product quality (Dodds et al., 1991; Gardner, 1970; Jacoby et al., 1971). These results could also be applied to non- brand name products with designations of origin – as with the products examined here (Ternera Gallega [Galician Veal], Ternera de Avila [Veal of Avila], Morucha de Salamanca [Beef of Salamanca], etc.) – since these perform the function of a brand name, that is identifcation, reference, guarantee and personalisation (Kapferer & Thoenig, 1991). Products with brand names tells consumer the standards and quality itself. Identification is one of the main functions performed by the designation of origin, in that it reduces the efforts needed to acquire information, simplifies the evaluation of the product at the time of purchase, and reduces the perceived risk (Sodipo, 1994). Other studies of this type (Teague & Anderson, 1995) support the claim that consumer preference for labels and useful information is consistent with research and recommendations which emphasise the value of information (Deturck & Goldhaber, 1989).
We have identifed two ways of presenting meat that is freshly cut from the slab and pre-packaged in trays. A key source of information for consumers is the ability to inspect products to be purchased (Tellis & Wernerfeldt, 1987) because consumers can detect quality cues at close range. For this reason, it is expected to be positively related with expected quality. Otherwise, some consumers showed a certain distrust of pre-packaged meat. This was also one of the findings in the report of the International Beef Quality Audit (Morgan, 1993), which regards current packaging technology as giving meat a worse quality image, with meat from the slab presenting an image of increased freshness and better conservation. Thus, consumers tend to purchase products that is freshly cut from the slab. From this, we can conclude that consumers’ perception towards meat quality goes simultaneously with the product presentation.
2.4 IMPROVING MEAT QUALITY
2.4.1 Vitamin E
It is well accepted that vitamin E supplementation in animal diet and meat products can improve the quality of fresh meat and meat products by limiting protein and lipid oxidation. Most studies support that vitamin E supplementation can improve meat color and reduce lipid oxidation in pork, beef and lamb ( Chan et al., 1996), (Lanari et al., 1995) and (Guidera et al., 1997). For fresh meat quality, vitamin E is possibly involved in regulating the conversion of muscle to meat by inhibiting protein oxidation. Feeding a diet supplemented with 1000 IU vitamin E for 104 days before slaughter resulted in lower shear force in beef steaks(Carnagey et al., 2008).
2.4.2 Soy Protein
Soy proteins are widely used in meat products in the forms of soy flour, and soy protein concentrate and isolate to improve water and fat binding ability, enhance emulsion stability, improve nutritional content, and increase yields (Chin, Keeton, Miller, Longnecker and Lamkey, 2000). In Argentina sausage “Chorizo”, addition of 2.5% soy protein isolate decreased drip loss during 14 d refrigerated storage without introducing any changes in flavor, aroma, juiciness characteristics, oxidation and microbiological stability (Porcella et al., 2001).
Fat also can contribute to the flavor, tenderness, juiciness, appearance, and texture of meat products (Cavestany et al., 1994) and (Claus et al., 1989). However, excessive fat intake is associated with various diseases including obesity, cancers, and coronary heart diseases (Hooper et al., 2001) and (Rothstein, 2006). Thus, meat industry is trying to produce meat products with low-fat without compromising sensory and texture characteristics. Dietary fiber is one of the ingredients to provide meat products with low-fat and high fibers. Dietary fiber is defined as the remnant of edible part of plants and analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in human small intestine (Prosky, 1999). Increased intake of dietary fibers has been recommended due to their effects in reducing the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases in human (Eastwood, 1992).
2.4.4 Herbs and Spices
Lipid oxidation is the major reaction that deteriorates flavor, color, texture, and nutritional value of foods (Kanner, 1994). Various synthetic antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and tertiary-butylhydroquinone have been used to prevent oxidative deterioration of foods. However, synthetic antioxidants are not completely accepted by consumers due to health concerns. Therefore, some natural ingredients including herbs and spices have been studied especially in Asian countries as potential antioxidants in meat and meat products (McCarthy, Kerry, Lynch, and Buckley, 2001). Compounds from herbs and spices contain many phytochemicals which are potential sources of natural antioxidants including phenolic diterpenes, flavonoids, tannins and phenolic acids (Dawidowicz, Wianowska and Baraniak, 2006). These compounds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities. In food systems, they can improve flavor, retard lipid oxidation-induced food deteriorations, inhibit the growth of microorganisms, and play roles in decreasing the risk of some diseases (Achinewhu et al., 1995) and (Tnabe et al., 2002).
2.4.5 Green Tea
Catechins is a predominant group of polyphenols present in green tea leaves composed of four compounds epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin gallate (Zhong et al., 2009). These tea compounds promote health by preventing lipid oxidation and providing antibacterial, anticarcinogenic and antiviral ability (Katiyar and Mukhtar, 1996) and (Yang et al., 2000). Tea polyphenols could inhibit the formation of mutagens, which was known to be associated with the breast and colon cancer, during cooking of ground beef hamburger style meat (Weisburger et al., 2002). Tea catechins provided two to four times more antioxidative ability than Î±-tocopherol depending on meats from different animal species (Tang, Sheehan, Buckley, Morrissey and Kerry, 2001). Addition of green tea, however, had no significant effects on pH, color and overall sensory quality to sausages (Bozkurt, 2006).
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