Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 15, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: It has been shown that beef production systems in the U.S. result in unacceptable variation in meat tenderness. Beef packers have been reluctant to adopt innovative technologies to accurately sort beef into different tenderness categories because the economic incentive was not clearly evident. This study was designed to determine consumer perceptions of beef with different levels of meat tenderness and the effect of tenderness on their willingness to purchase beef steaks. Consumers were able to discern the three levels of tenderness. Consumers also were willing to pay a premium for steaks known to be tender. Thus, it would be possible for economic incentives to be used from consumers back through the marketing chain to encourage the production, identification, and marketing of tender beef.
A study was conducted to determine consumer perceptions of beef top loin steaks of known shear force and to evaluate how buying trends were modified by the tenderness and price variations of these steaks. Strip loins were cut into 2.54-cm-thick steaks, and the center steak from each strip loin was used to determine Warner-Bratzler shear force. The remaining steaks were placed into one of the following shear force categories based on that shear force and color-coded accordingly: 1) 2.27 to 3.58 kg (Red); 2) 4.08 to 5.40 kg (White); and 3) 5.90 to 7.21 kg (Blue). Randomly recruited consumers were allowed to evaluate steaks and then purchase steaks based on their findings. A $1.10/kg price difference was placed between each category. Results of the analysis indicated that consumers were able to differentiate between the three levels of tenderness (P < .05). In addition, consumers gave higher (P < .05) juiciness and flavor ratings to Red steaks than to Blue steaks. Overall satisfaction was higher (P < .05) for Red steaks compared to the other two categories of steaks. The following percentages of steaks were purchased: 1) Red, 94.6%; 2) White, 3.6%; and 3) Blue, 1.8%. These results suggest that consumers could discern between tenderness levels and were willing to pay a premium for improved tenderness.