Last spring the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency issued a Canadian consumer meat retail study.
The 153 page document, produced by People Talking, a market research service in Toronto, covered a range of topics including consumer perceptions of meat and how to differentiate product in the marketplace.
In the conclusions of the lengthy paper, the authors said that beef produced without growth promotants is a more promising market than organic beef in Canada.
“Consumers find the raised without hormones and antibiotics claim to be more credible, and more concrete, than organic…. raised without hormones and antibiotics is directly linked by the consumer… as being healthier and safer for me to eat.”
Clint Dobson, ALMA senior policy manager, said that finding wasn’t surprising.
“That’s been pretty consistent over time and in multiple different studies. It comes down to that consumers are not familiar with what organic is, even though organic is above and beyond what hormone and antibiotic programs typically are.”
As well, more buyers were willing to pay a premium for beef free of added hormones and antibiotics than any other feature.
At a price premium of 10 percent, 44 percent of survey participants said they would prefer to buy beef free of growth promotants and antibiotics, while 31 percent said they would buy organic beef at a 10 percent premium.
At a 25 percent price premium, 24 percent of participants said they would still pay the extra cash for hormone and antibiotic free beef.
In contrast, only 12 percent of people in the survey would still prefer organic beef if it was 25 percent higher than a baseline price.
“Raised without hormones and antibiotics is a bigger opportunity than organic,” the report noted. “(Because) the size of the group willing to pay a premium… is larger.”