Full Length Research Paper
A study was conducted to determine the perceptions of rural meat consumers and traders on meat quality and how the welfare of slaughter cattle affects beef quality. The study focused on the three stages: prior to purchase, at point of purchase and at point of consumption. A total of 102 rural consumers and 31 meat traders were conveniently sampled and used in the study. Principal component analysis with varimax rotation (PCA) were conducted in order to identify the underlying structure of the items used for measuring evaluations of animal welfare issues, expected eating quality and determinants of purchasing decisions, while the CALIS procedure was used to analyze the structural relationships. With regards to consumers, estimated relationships showed significant association between the visual quality items and the perceived beef quality with regards to the meat traders; weak and negative relationships existed between visual quality indicators and perceived beef quality. This means that product quality can be accurately inferred from the consumers who are the purchasers and end users of the meat products. Significant negative realationships existed between the cattle rearing methods component and the items covered by the animal handling at abattoir component, meaning that the meat traders believe that cattle handling at the abattoir are at variance with the way the cattle are reared at the farm, and therefore this could have an effect on meat quality. Principal component analysis also showed that quality of beef and purchase motives followed a one-dimensional concept for both the consumers and meat, meaning that they perceived quality of beef is associated with price, packaging, place of slaughter and butcher reputation. It was conluded that consumers and meat traders have convergent perceptions on the animal welfare issues and meat qiality aspects of beef.
Key words: Eating quality, beef cattle, animal stress, rural meat consumers, meat traders, meat quality cues, purchasing decision.
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