TRUST in the red meat industry is strong among city-based Australians, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest consumer sentiment research – as is the desire to learn more about how the beef and lamb industries operate.
MLA’s Jason Strong said this year’s consumer insights reflected an increasing desire to understand more about how the industry works from metro Australia.
“Consumers, especially within our cities, are wanting to learn more about how beef and lamb is produced – in particular how farmers are looking after the environment and their animals,” he said.
“This represents a significant opportunity for the sector as our research indicates that higher levels of industry knowledge are linked to better perceptions.”
Mr Strong also said a greater understanding of the industry also had benefits for producers through increased demand.
“Consumers with higher levels of industry knowledge are more likely to have increased their red meat consumption overall,” he said.
“This is because they understand the care and eff orts undertaken by Australian cattle and sheep producers in raising their livestock and looking after the environment.”
According to the survey, 46 per cent of consumers were interested in learning how producers ensured the humane treatment of their livestock and 44 per cent in how they looked after the environment.
It showed knowledge of the industry also impacted on trust, with 61 per cent of metropolitan Australians having a strong level of trust in the Australian beef industry and 60 per cent having trust in the sheep industry.
The top three drivers of trust in the industry were the perceptions of producers being ethical and trustworthy, listen and respond to community concerns and are taking actions to improve sustainability.
Mr Strong said a higher level of trust corresponded to a higher level of consumption.
“Those consumers who had a high level of trust were more likely to consume red meat more frequently than those with lower levels of trust,” he said.
“The strong link between knowledge, improved perceptions, trust and consumption patterns highlights the importance of continuing to raise knowledge in our industry and to demonstrate action around animal welfare and reducing our environmental impact, to ultimately maintain trust in the red meat industry and overall red meat consumption in Australia.”
Organised annually since 2010 by strategic consultancy firm Pollinate on behalf of MLA, the research measures and tracks consumer sentiment in the community towards the Australian red meat industry.
The research is used to inform MLA’s community engagement strategy and benchmark the impact of its programs on building community trust in the red meat industry.
It also found red meat consumption patterns had remained relatively stable, with 71 per per cent of metro Australians eating the same amount or more red meat over the past year.
The main reasons cited for maintaining or increasing red meat consumption came down to nutrition, taste and ease of cooking, while cost was named as the main reason other consumers reduced consumption.
Mr Strong said the research significantly informed MLA’s community engagement and marketing activities on behalf of the red meat industry.
“Explaining our productions systems and demonstrating that our producers are ethical and responsible custodians of livestock, land and natural resources helps to inform the community and strengthen an already proud Australian industry,” he said.