CONSUMERS NOW PREFER FATTY BEEF. . . .

nina | May 2nd, 2012 - 9:00 am

When it comes to food, the alternatives are endless: spicy or bland; Mexican, Italian, Asian or Southern-style comfort dishes. But when it comes to beef, almost everyone agrees on a few features.

Consumers say that higher fat levels are more desirable and they like it better. It’s been found that marbling level has a really big impact on the consumer’s desire for beef.

Comparing strip loins from USDA Prime to Select. It was found that overall preference declined to 79 percent from 95.8 percent. That linear downtrend mirrored the flavor ratings, which showed 97.5 percent of the Prime steaks were acceptable. Those scores dropped with each successive grade break: 94.2 percent for high Choice, 92.4 percent for low Choice and 85.8 percent for Select.

Overall liking is most highly correlated with flavor, but tenderness and juiciness ratings followed similar patterns.

The USDA quality grades do their job.

They’re based on what will give you the ultimate level of consumer satisfaction. Juiciness is controlled by degree of doneness, so that leaves flavor and tenderness. Since quality grades include a maturity component, that helps with the latter. On top of that marbling is used, a factor that’s tremendously related to all three.

Research a decade ago showed tenderness contributed half of overall beef eaters’ satisfaction, followed by flavor at 40 percent.

Tenderness is by far the most important factor, but once a steak meets a consumer’s threshold for tenderness, then flavor becomes the sole driver.

Tenderness is the most important factor but flavor is an area where we can make a lot of progress on our competition, especially in the international market.

Source:  Industry News, 4.24.12; Statistics based on a study by Mark Miller, meat scientist at Texas Tech University.

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