Q-PorkChains and the consumers
|The ultimate goal of Q-PorkChains was to develop pork products that satisfy the future demands of the European consumers. Price is predicted to have a smaller and smaller impact on the choice of pork, so a number of other aspects will be decisive factors.
The scenario was that the way ahead is to produce pork and pork products of superior eating quality, which are convenient, wholesome and even health promoting from pigs treated in an acceptable manner, produced in a way that put minimal stress on the environment.
A comprehensive mapping of consumer attitudes and behavior has been carried out in 5 European countries (Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Poland and Greece) as well as in China and Brazil. The results showed that pork is very popular and consumed as products that vary substantially and are processed to various degrees: from fresh meat, minced meat, marinated or stuffed to charcuterie type products. Product demand differs due to gender and individual taste but also with regard to the occasion when it is to be consumed: on the go, on weekdays or weekends or when inviting guests.
There is also great variation with regard to culinary traditions in different countries and/or regions. Furthermore, demand depends on very personal preferences such as willingness to pay for quality, interest in cooking, either traditionally or innovative. The researchers in Q-PorkChains divided the consumers participating in the inventory in seven different segments.
A controversial subject
Pig production itself is a controversial subject. People hold views on the environmental impact and/or animal welfare issues related to mass pig production systems and preservation of small scale farms. However, the project found that consumer attitudes (consumption preferences) and citizen attitudes (mass production, animal welfare) were only weakly linked.
Based on these results, ideas for new pork products have been generated in a brainstorming process and screened by the industrial partners (VION and Danish Crown). Read more about the brainstorming process under Product Innovation.
The consumers choice
A new approach in the project is thus to use consumer and citizen analyses to ensure, that the new products developed will also be in demand. The objective is to develop new tools for innovation of pork-based products.
The purpose is to map and evaluate consumers and citizens’ attitudes towards pig production and pork consumption in general and use this knowledge as input for further development. When new products are developed, the mapping of consumer attitudes can also be used for marketing aspects.
A short review of research on consumer perception of pork quality can be seen here (click to open in pdf)
Salamis, sausages and ham
In more detail, the researchers of the project has come up with new products like safer carpaccio (also read the short news story) and enhanced pork, marinated with salt and water, as well as nutritionally improved sliced fermented sausages, cooked ham and emulsified meat products.
One of the aspects dealt with was to lower the amount of sodium and fat in the products. Also indigestible fibers i.e. inulin and bacteria or bacterial products has been tested for their ability to improve the wellness of the consumers. Safer pork and pork products has been investigated in agreement with the aspects of the 'clean label' concept, using minimal amount of preservatives to obtain an exact amount of safety.
The eating quality has been improved for instance by a thorough investigation into the connection between genes of the pigs and sensory traits of cooked loin and dry-cured ham.