CONSUMERS in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly concerned about the origin of their food, according to recent figures. A recent survey commissioned by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) found that over 60 per cent of people want to know where the beef has come from when they are eating out.In controlled taste tests 87 per cent of those surveyed stated that Northern Ireland steaks either met or exceeded their expectations and when the country of origin was known the locally sourced steaks performed even better.
If Country of Origin Labelling was implemented, it would mean that restaurants and hotels would have to display on menus where the beef they serve comes from. Consumers would then be able to choose the country of preference.
When asked to rate certain attributes of beef from various countries, Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured (NIFQA) sirloin was a clear favourite amongst consumers with regard to perceived tenderness (46 per cent); freshness (51 per cent); and quality (46 per cent).
In each instance, NIFQA sirloins were followed some way behind by Irish sirloins and Scotch sirloins.
Almost three in five selected the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured sirloin as their first choice, a trend which was especially prevalent amongst those in the 25+ age categories.
Naomi Waite Marketing Director at LMC said: “Northern Ireland beef has a very high quality image in local consumers’ minds, and is the preferred choice for the majority of consumers.
“What the survey has highlighted is that stating Northern Ireland as the country of origin increases the consumers’ quality perceptions which can only be good for the Northern Ireland foodservice sector.
“This, the first comprehensive Cool consumer study in the foodservice sector in Northern Ireland, measured consumer’s attitudes and perceptions under controlled conditions.
“The study confirmed what we in LMC have known for years. Consumers in Northern Ireland are savvy shoppers and want to buy quality beef from their country of choice, Northern Ireland”.
While no mandatory labelling scheme exists in Northern Ireland, the government supports a voluntary labelling scheme and already Botanic Inns has announced that it is to declare the source of all its steaks and roast beef on its menus as Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured, a move welcomed by the LMC.
By Cathy Black
© FAME Inc