What motivates consumers around the world to buy British pork?

Monday, 4 April 2022

Pork from the UK is performing well in countries such as China, Hong Kong and the Philippines, with consumers actively seeking out British products due to its quality and food safety credentials.

Of consumers in North America (United States and Canada) 10% claim to consciously buy British pork either very or quite regularly – with quality, value and taste being the top three drivers. Europe and South East Asia are slightly higher at 17%.

However, British food products remain relatively niche in export markets and more needs to be done to highlight the positive attributes of pork from the UK.

New research

These findings come from new research, which explored consumer buying behaviour across three continents to provide valuable insight into where British produce fits into these markets.

To gain a greater understanding of the current dynamics within these markets, we commissioned a study with consumer research agency Two Ears One Mouth to explore the purchase habits of more than 25,000 consumers across 17 markets in the EU, North America, and South East Asia.

This in-depth analysis into the new growing trends in multiple countries allowed us to highlight key consumer opportunities and considerations for UK red meat exporters.

International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “This is extremely valuable information for our red meat exporters as it allows us to fully explore the potential opportunities these markets present and find out how levy payers can reap the benefits of our export markets in the future.

“New export markets are imperative for adding value to the supply chain and maximising returns, while maintaining existing markets will help us to further grow trade, strengthen relationships and react to the changes of the marketplace.

“A key role of AHDB is working with government and industry to create new opportunities for the UK’s red meat exports. This research will prove incredibly useful as we continue to help businesses strengthen trade across the three continents.”

Quality, price and taste

The research, which was unveiled at our Red Meat Export Conference last month, highlights how consumer buying behaviour across the three continents is influenced by three overarching factors – quality, price and taste.

These factors rank in different orders of importance for consumers in different cities, countries and continents. For example, in China the key factors are food safety, quality and health, whereas in Mexico quality, taste and price are most important.

Quality is the top priority for consumers in Europe, North America and South East Asia. However, what a consumer considers ‘quality’ is unique to the individual and can encompass further factors such as product taste.

Senior Consumer Insight Manager Steven Evans said: “Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just saying a good quality product will perform well in a chosen market, as quality means different things to different people.

“For example, a consumer in South East Asia would predominantly look for food safety as the main indicator of quality red meat, whereas in Europe food safety is an assumed aspect of red meat products, so it sits lower down the list of quality indicators, with factors such as taste and appearance being of greater importance.

“While it’s clear that the approach should not be a ‘one size fits all’, there is the opportunity to differentiate British red meat products from its competitors by expanding on the factors which sit under the key overarching themes.

“Therefore, it is important exporters harness consumer buying behaviour and adapt their offering to find the right messages to amplify the products in local target markets.”

Targeted messaging

British food products are renowned for holding a price premium, but targeted messaging highlighting quality, taste, food safety and production factors of our meat could help to justify the increased cost compared with domestic meat.

A small proportion of Asian consumers perceive the nutritional value and health credentials of British red meat to be better than domestic products compared with that of other primary purchase drivers, such as quality and food safety. This suggests there is an opportunity to address these specific drivers alongside the primary drivers in the Asian marketplace.

While environmental sustainability and animal welfare are currently lower-ranking drivers in South East Asia, they could become more important over time, therefore careful consideration should be given to what could become a growing trend.

Consumer Insight Analyst Rachel Rose added: “The research shows there are many opportunities for British meat exports, however, exporters still face a number of challenges within existing markets. For instance, Canadian consumers show a strong desire for local red meat, while Japan notably does not regard British products as highly as domestic equivalents.

“Many markets are open to the idea of buying British red meat and, while price is a barrier, we must utilise the current positive predisposition – making the most of where there is already openness whilst addressing perceptions in those markets that are less likely to consider our meat.”

Read more: Harnessing consumer buying behaviour for British exports

Red meat export conference

Podcast: what motivates consumers around the world to buy British meat?

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