Price isn’t everything at the meat counter — being Canadian counts, too

About half of consumers say they check labels to ensure they’re buying meat of Canadian origin

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Good news, Canadian livestock producers — your fellow citizens are willing to pay more for your meat.

“Canadians buy Canadian to support local and Canadian farmers, support the local economy, and for freshness,” Barry Davis of Leger Marketing said at the recent FutureFare conference.

His firm surveyed 1,609 meat shoppers and two-thirds said they had very strong trust and confidence in the Canadian meat supply chain.

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“The theme running through this is more about supporting Canadian, versus buying local,” said Davis, the company’s Edmonton-based associate vice-president of public affairs.

“This idea of buying local was not necessarily about supporting Alberta, or farmers from the region, but about buying Canadian.”

The findings from the online survey, which echoes similar surveys done in 2010 and 2012, found the importance of being raised in Canada varied with the type of animal. About 52 per cent thought that bison purchased in the store should be of Canadian origin, while 48 per cent said it’s important to purchase Canadian beef and chicken (with pork just slightly behind at 46 per cent). However, only 31 per cent thought it was important to purchase Canadian lamb. The respondents were also willing to pay at least 10 per cent more for hormone-free and antibiotic-free meat, regardless of the type of meat.

However, many people said organic meat is too expensive.

When people buy meat, they make all sorts of decisions about what kind of meat they are going to eat and what cut. Chicken was the No. 1 choice and was generally chosen because it was “healthy,” but also because it is a “family favourite” and “everyday meal.” Beef was second and was generally chosen because it was a “family favourite.” Pork was the third most popular meat because it is seen as an “everyday meal.” When consumers were asked about their meat purchases in the last 30 days, the vast majority of them had purchased chicken, followed by beef.

Canadians are shopping at a larger number of retailers than they indicated in previous surveys, said Davis.

“It’s hard to sort out who are the winners and losers,” he said. “Everyone has more shoppers, so it doesn’t tell you which pie is bigger. Everyone has received an increase.”

Still, Walmart has increased its market share by four times while Costco continues to make significant gains.

“Price is the primary reason why people pick a store,” said Davis.

But the survey also found consumers are willing to pay “a higher price for Canadian fresh meat product” versus an imported alternative.

Other factors include quality and convenience. Consumers look at flyers in advance and make a lot of decisions by looking at recipes in the store, particularly when faced with an unfamiliar cut of meat.

Consumers are also using smartphones and tablets more frequently to look at grocery store websites and flyers. They’re also printing coupons and recipes.

“It’s increasingly important that we have mobile applications,” said Davis.

The study was funded by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency. It can be found by Googling ‘ALMA leger.’

About the author


Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."



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