Consumer perceptions of meat production: Enhancing the competitiveness of British agriculture by understanding communication with the consumer
McEachern, M. G.
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Purpose - To identify factors that could influence consumer perceptions relating to meat production and areas where further development would be of assistance to British agriculture. Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative semi-structured interviews of a quota sample of Scottish meat purchasing consumers. Findings - Results indicate that consumer views on meat production vary widely and that while there are some differences between rural and urban consumers the differences are rarely simple. Views were expressed on a variety of factors including livestock producers, agricultural production, certification and traceability. Relatively few consumers were routinely concerned with assurance labels. Consequently, knowledge of underpinning standards was limited. Primary sources of meat were the major supermarket groups with a distinct bias towards older consumers among those who preferred to shop in small butchers shops. Attitudes towards producers were mainly positive but some consumers remained sceptical about producer behaviour during hard times. Research limitations/implications - While more research would clearly be required to consider a broader spectrum of UK consumers, these current data indicate that consumer understanding of food information and indeed their interest and credibility of the current systems is a subject that would benefit from much wider research. The practical implications for the development of Government policy and for the idividual producers are substantial and would benefit from considerable clarification. Originality/value - Prior research concerning meat production and the views of consumers is limited. Theses findings have implications for future sector-based communications to consumers, in that equal emphasis should be given to both rural and urban consumers. More collaborative communications measures must be implemented to ensure consumer awareness/understanding of underpinning assurance label standards and bring about loyal purchase preferences for British produce.