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A study wants to know how much consumers will pay for steaks

Why are consumers willing to pay high prices for steaks? 
 
A simple question from a Texas Tech doctoral candidate who wanted to know why consumers would pay $75 for a steak when much cheaper options are available led to a research project to answer that question. 
 
It has evolved into a collaborative genomics project funded by a $603,960 grant from the University of New England that seeks to relate the genetic differences in the culinary quality of various beef cattle.
 
Researchers discovered that the brain becomes stimulated when having an oxytocin-filled life experience like a first kiss, a celebration of marriage, or children. 
 
"Whatever it is – gets you turned on when you eat a high-quality piece of beef," says Markus Miller, a professor in the animal and food sciences department. 

"Why would people want to eat beef when in every country on the planet, it's the most expensive protein? The reason is because of what it does to you physiologically. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy. You feel happy, and you feel good about yourself. And food does that to everybody," says Miller. 
 
The project will collect data from consumers across three countries, including the U.S., Ireland, and Australia, with different methods of raising beef cattle, compile that data and try to isolate the genes that give consumers the best dining experience.
 
In the U.S., consumers in the test project will eat grain-fed beef. In contrast, consumers in Ireland will eat 100% grass-fed steaks, and those in the Australian group will have a mixture of the two types of meat, with the goal being to find out if the different methods of raising beef cattle produce different genetics.
 
"It may be that we have the same genetics everywhere, and there's no genetic difference, but we need to know," Miller says. "But, understanding the differences, or lack of differences, allows us to know how to manage feeding and production. It will help us maximize the quality and healthfulness of beef in relation to all outputs like methane, carbon, and water use."

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