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Beef brand affects perception of taste

Here's another article that I think is interesting...

Kansas State University meat scientists have found that the brand name on beef at the grocery store makes a difference to consumers when it hits the dinner plate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in 2015 that close to 100 brands are approved for marketing beef in the U.S. A recent audit indicated that 98% of all beef sold in grocery stores is under some form of branding.

Taste tests found that consumers rated steak and ground beef products higher for flavor, texture, juiciness, tenderness and overall liking when the packaging included the terms certified Angus beef, Angus or USDA Prime. No improvement was found, however, in how the same consumers rated steak and ground beef when it included the terms USDA Choice or USDA Select.

"It's not just that you're putting a name on the product but putting the right name on the product seems to make a difference to consumers," said Travis O'Quinn, assistant professor of meat science at Kansas State. "When consumers perceive a certain quality associated with those brands, that value is going to transfer all the way to their end product eating experience."

Consumers who participated in Kansas State's taste tests were given a product without any name associated with it. In a second round of tasting, they received the exact same steak but were given the brand name or USDA quality grade associated with the product.

In these studies, certified Angus beef seemed to be highly preferred by consumers, O'Quinn said. Ratings for certified Angus beef steak rated 14% higher for juiciness, 15% higher for flavor and 10% higher for overall liking. Certified Angus ground beef sirloin was rated 37% higher for juiciness, 23% higher for flavor and 25% higher for overall liking. Other ground beef products, however, did not receive significantly higher ratings from consumers based on brand.

Another finding indicated that the percentage of fat in ground beef did not affect consumers' perception of the quality of that product.

A major discrepancy occurred in consumers' ratings of two similar brands. Products labeled Angus Select commonly experienced a 13% improvement in tenderness over the control test, while products labeled USDA Select were rated 10% lower. "The only difference in the product we served was that, in one, we included the word 'Angus,'" O'Quinn noted.

"This is good information as the industry moves forward with marketing decisions based on how to correctly sell beef to consumers," he said. "We are going to continue to see an increase in the popularity of branded beef products. People are very loyal to brands, and that holds true in the beef market, as well."

O'Quinn noted that restaurants and other retailers may benefit from the study.

"If you own a white-tablecloth restaurant, making sure your consumers understand that this is a Prime product you're serving will pay big dividends," he said. "If you're selling a certified Angus beef or Prime product, you should get extra bang for the buck just by making sure consumers know what you're serving."

O'Quinn said the original study focused on consumers in Manhattan, Kan., an area well known for raising beef cattle. Future studies may focus on differences in how consumers in other parts of the country rate branded beef for the qualities tested.

The studies were presented during the university's 2016 Cattleman's Day. The full reports can be found online at

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