K-State's Travis O'Quinn Looks at Reality in Beef ResearchTue, 14 Jun 2016 21:17:03 CDT
What happens when you add real-life parameters to beef research? Kansas State University meat scientist Travis O’Quinn wanted to find out.
“We do a lot of research when it comes to beef eating quality and so in all those tests, we actually let the consumers consume all that product blind, meaning we don’t give them any information about the product before they try it other than it is beef steaks,” he says. “So we have done a lot of studies like that, but in the truth in real world settings, consumers know a lot about the product before they even take their first bite. They know some things about the color and appearance if they purchase it at retail, they know about the price. They know about the brands of the products they purchase, so all of those things go into influencing the consumers’ overall perception.”
His team tested product with taste panels twice: first blind, and then identified. Initial results matched what other studies had reported.
“As quality grade and marbling grades increase from Select to Prime, we saw increase in tenderness, juiciness, flavor and overall liking for those products,” O’Quinn says. “We also saw the percentage of those samples that were rated acceptable increase over the same range. So that was very repeatable, we were very happy to see that as marbling increased we also saw the concurrent increase in all the other characteristics.”
Then they revealed information about the products-the USDA Prime, Choice and Select grade cuts, or those carrying the Certified Angus Beef brand, or a generic “Angus” label.
“When we disclosed to the consumers what they were eating we saw a very large brand lift associated with Certified Angus Beef when it came to flavor perception and overall eating satisfaction,” he says.
When panelists knew they were eating the brand, flavor rankings increased 14% and overall liking went up by 10 percent.
Flavor is becoming an increasingly important factor for beef eaters.
“We as an industry made strides to improve the tenderness of the U.S. beef supply,” O’Quinn says. “The last meet tenderness audit data showed that about 98 percent of beef sold at retail actually meets consumer expectations for tenderness, so now consumers view tenderness accessibility as a given, so they are looking at flavor as the next challenge they see when it comes to beef eating quality.”
That’s why more consumers are turning to names they trust.
“Our data would suggest that it is not about having just a brand name on the meat products; meat products must meet the expectations for that brand,” he says.
Click on the video below to watch O’Quinn talk more about beef consumer research and the idea of “brand lift.”
Source: Certified Angus Beef, LLC
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