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European Consumers' Acceptance and Rejection of Novel Beef Technologies: A Qualitative Study

By Marcia Dutra de Barcellos, Jens O. Kugler, Klaus G. Grunert, Lynn Van Wezemael, M. Pothoulaki, Oydis Ueland and Wim Verbeke

Abstract

As part of ProSafeBeef, an integrated research project funded by the European Commission, the present qualitative study was carried out with European consumers to obtain insights into their acceptance or rejection of eight selected novel beef production and processing technologies, identified here as concepts: 1) marinating by injection for increased healthiness; 2) marinating by injection for increased safety; 3) marinating by injection for increased eating quality; 4) marinating by submerging for increased eating quality; 5) nutritional enhancement; 6) shock wave treatment; 7) muscle profiling and 8) thermal processing. In total, 65 adults between 19- 60 years of age participated in eight focus groups that were performed in Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. In each country, two group discussions were performed; one composed of women and another one of men who lived in the respective capital cities: Madrid, Paris, Berlin and London. A common and translated topic guide was developed prior to the field work. A ranking exercise was applied, where the participants classified the technologies into accepted, neutral or rejected concepts, after discussing the perceived benefits and risks of each one of them. The obtained data was consecutively transcribed, coded and analysed by using the software package NVivo 7. The results reveal a dependency between the acceptance of novel beef products and how consumers perceive the characteristics of the innovation itself. Excess manipulation and a growing distance from a ‘natural’ way of processing beef products were considered to be very negative outcomes of technological innovations in beef processing. Apparently, novel technologies applied in beef production are predominantly seen as a valuable option for convenience shoppers and those who are less demanding in terms of beef quality and have less culinary skills. However, consumers support the development of technologies that can provide more healthiness and better eating quality, and if such technologies are ‘not invasive’, the chances to be accepted increase. Current trends and development in society, global warming crisis, disease outbreaks and degradation of the environment are shaping consumers’ opinion in regard to foodproduction. There was a severe criticism about too much intervention in food and a strong desire to keep food and beef processing as simple and natural as possible.Agribusiness, Agricultural and Food Policy, Farm Management, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety, Risk and Uncertainty,

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