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Meat price main issue for buyers

SASKATOON — If a consumer panel at the recent provincial beef conference is truly representative, meat buyers look at cost above anything else when deciding what to buy.

The panel of six, four women and two men, all said they had cut back on meat purchases in the last couple of years.

When asked when, where and what they buy, they leaned toward buying products on sale and at lower-cost stores such as Superstore or bulk stores like Costco where they could buy quality for less money.

Four of the six said they were buying less meat overall.

“It’s more cost than anything,” said one woman, while another said because the family income was limited while she is on a maternity leave, the family had cut back on all sources of protein.

None of them said they evaluate the nutritional profile of their protein sources.

That surprised Joe Schwarcz, a chemist who heads McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. He addressed the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference before the panel and stayed to listen.

“I have no idea how that panel was selected but was surprised to hear that they based their decisions almost exclusively on price without mentioning health or nutrition,” he said. “Especially surprising because five out of six were significantly overweight.”

The panel was independently chosen to attend the conference and answer questions from the audience.

Three said they had never been on a farm while one had spent time at a grain farm and two others had both been on hog farms and one on a dairy.

They get their information largely from social media and most said they tended toward ground beef because they didn’t know how to cook other cuts.

The panel was also asked about fast food and specifically A&W’s marketing campaign that promotes ‘no added hormones’ in its beef.

“I don’t pay attention,” said one woman. “I know they’re there for one purpose, to target people who may be scared.”

One man said it had no impact on him either way because he doesn’t eat fast food, while the other said the advertising makes him want to go elsewhere.

“I like A&W,” said another woman, but she added if her family goes out for fast food they don’t go there because it costs too much.

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