Nearly half of all metro Australians would like a better understanding of how the red meat industry operates, research conducted for Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has found.

Strategic consultancy firm, Pollinate, conducts research on an annual basis for MLA, measuring consumer sentiment in the community towards the Australian red meat industry.

According to a MLA statement, the research informs MLA’s community engagement strategy and helps to measure the impact of its programs on building community trust in the red meat industry.

Pollinate’s survey was distributed to just over 1,500 main grocery buyers/main meal preparers, aged between 18 and 64 and located in metro Australia.

Almost half (48 percent) of respondents said they’d like to learn more about the red meat industry, pointing to the treatment of animals (46 percent), environmental welfare (44 percent) and the ‘paddock to plate’ process (32 percent) as their key areas of interest.

“Consumers, especially within our cities, are wanting to learn more about how beef and lamb is produced, in particular how farmers are looking after the environment and their animals,” said MLA managing director, Jason Strong. “This represents a significant opportunity for the sector as our research indicates that higher levels of industry knowledge are linked to better perceptions.”

The Pollinate research also found that higher levels of industry knowledge lead to increased consumption.

“This is because they understand the care and effort undertaken by Australian cattle and sheep producers in raising their livestock and looking after the environment,” Strong said.

Sustainability is of particular interest to consumers, with 55 percent of respondents saying it is either very important or extremely important to them.

Over half (56 percent) of respondents say they’d feel more positive about the red meat industry if greenhouse gas emissions were reduced to net zero by the year 2030 (which the industry has set out to achieve). This is up from 42 percent in 2018, and 53 percent last year.

Consumption trends

Over the past 12 months, red meat consumption has remained relatively stable, with 15 percent of Australians saying they’re eating more meat than they were 12 months ago (up from nine percent the year prior). Fifty-six percent are eating about the same amount (down from 63 percent), and 29 percent are eating less (up from 28 percent).

Of those eating less, cost is the stand-out motivator, with 57 percent of respondents listing it as the main driver. This was followed by environmental concerns and health concerns.

Overall, the survey found metro Australians have a fairly positive perception of the red meat industry, with 60 percent of respondents saying they feel very good or good about the cattle industry, and 55 percent saying the same about the lamb industry. Having said that, these figures are the lowest they’ve been in at least five years.

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