‘Homemade’ often means hot from microwave

Chicken continues to rule the roost in terms of popularity at the retail meat counter but a recent survey produced data on how consumers approach preparation of that chicken as well as other meats.

It came as no surprise that cooking from scratch is becoming more rare.

Half the 1,000 Albertans surveyed prepare raw, fresh meat less than 10 times per month and younger age groups are more likely to buy ready to eat meat products.

Jeewani Fernando, provincial consumer market analyst with Alberta Agriculture, said the survey, though small, is a start toward better understanding of how today’s consumers prepare meat.

Her department and the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association contracted the quick survey of 10 questions through Nielsen Canada.

It showed that the 18 to 34 age group had less confidence in meat preparation skills, a finding that matches that of similar studies on a larger scale. Lack of time for cooking also figured into results.

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“The time limitation is the biggest concern,” said Fernando about the 18-34 age group. “They don’t have food preparation skills so they are going for ready made, or ready to eat. The time concern is there so they are looking for the convenience factor.”

But ready-to-eat purchases aren’t limited to one age group.

“This study also provides evidence that the majority of consumers, irrespective of their age, purchase partially prepared or fully prepared take out items from a grocery store at least one to three times per month. Younger consumers purchase these types of prepared meat more frequently (four to 10 times per month) as compared to the 50 plus age group, who seldom purchase these items,” said a survey synopsis.

The ethnic diversity of the younger age group also plays a role in choice of meat, said Fernando.

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“Something interesting is that it confirms census data that ethnic diversity is increasing and therefore other meats like goat and lamb … even if it’s a small amount, the demand is increasing. The trend is there.”

Ninety-five percent of survey respondents said chicken is the easiest meat to prepare, though beef was close behind with 88 percent rating it as easy or very easy.

As for pork, 80 percent rated it easy or very easy but 12 percent indicated they don’t usually consume or prepare pork.

Some 56 percent said the same about lamb and 78 percent about goat.

Fernando said the survey indicates good potential for partial or fully prepared meat products, provided they meet consumers’ quality requirements.

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