The objective of the study was to determine the perceptions of consumers from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa on the quality of mutton. A survey was conducted on 215 consumers from five different municipalities in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Data was gathered from interviewed consumers at the point of purchase, or when they left the shops. Door to door visits were also carried out. Consumers who lived and shopped in the studied areas were randomly selected. The most important quality cues which indicate consumers’ perception were included in interview. One of the major factors affecting the purchasing decisions of consumers is shown to be the price of mutton. Investigation results indicate, that 34% of the consumers preferred mutton, as compared to other protein sources, but were not buying it, because it was expensive for them. Educational status had an effect on the consumers’ perception when they choose meat colour, preference on sheep meat parts and health effects. The study also showed that consumers were more concerned about the price, than on the fat in mutton, which may have a negative effect on their health. Both male and female consumers suggested that, there was a need for some more sheep farmers, as the way for reducing the levels of imported mutton into South Africa. They also suggested more efforts in selection programmes that result in efficient sheep production and reduced mutton prices.
Key words: Mutton, meat quality, consumers’ perception, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
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