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Red meat industry vital to job creation and economy, according to consumers

24 August 2023

Key points:

  • A majority of Australians consider red meat production as vital for economic growth (77%) and job creation (72%)
  • Over half (53%) of Australians want to learn more about how red meat is produced
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) see red meat as an important source of nutrition and many are interested in learning more about its health benefits.

Australians are eager to learn more about the beef and lamb industries and this thirst for knowledge often translates into positive perceptions of the industry, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) latest consumer sentiment research.

Conducted annually since 2010 by Pollinate on behalf of MLA, the research measures and tracks consumer sentiment towards the Australian red meat industry.

The research is used to inform MLA’s engagement with consumers and the community, including MLA’s myriad of programs that build trust and communicate the immense value of the industry.

MLA Managing Director Jason Strong said this year’s consumer insights indicate that higher levels of industry knowledge were linked to better perceptions of the industry.

“A key takeaway from the research is that the more consumers learn about the industry, the better their perceptions become,” Mr Strong said. “It goes to the heart of the very positive story our industry can tell around environmental sustainability, human nutrition, and animal welfare.

“We are proud that when consumer have a look under the bonnet, they are proud of the industry and its immense contribution to society. Trust in the industry increased to 66% from 60% last year, indicating that the more you know, the more you appreciate and understand the industry.

“Consumers appreciate the opportunity to analyse the nutritional aspects of red meat, understand its production methods, and sustainability efforts. When they do, this leads to a more positive view of the industry's contributions to the Australian economy and job creation.”

Most Australians (77%) see the industry as an important part of the Australian economy, while 72% consider red meat production as a key employer in regional areas.

The research revealed that a greater knowledge of the industry is associated with a greater likelihood of red meat consumption. It found 26% of consumers who feel knowledgeable about the beef and lamb industry are more likely to consume red meat compared to a year ago. While 15% of all other Australians indicate that they are more likely to eat red meat compared to this time last year.

Mr Strong noted that while nearly 1 in 3 (28%) of Australians think they have knowledge of the industry, 53% also want to learn more about red meat production.

“This is because red meat production is intertwined with various aspects of Australian life, including the economy, culture, health, and environment,” he said.

“There’s also a strong desire to see kids learn about the industry in Australian schools, with 71% agreeing with this statement.”

Of the Australians who are looking to increase red meat consumption, 88% are driven by health and nutrition. Breaking this down further, these reasons included accessing a source of iron, protein, nutrition and to generally improve their health.

Only 5% of Australians identify as vegetarians, which is the lowest figure recorded to date. In addition, over half (55%) of claimed vegetarians eat fish or meat occasionally, so only 2% of the population are what is considered “true” vegetarians or vegans.