The significance of traceability in consumer decision making towards Karoo lamb
Author: Henriette du Plessis and Gerrie du Rand
Publication: Food Research International, Vol 47, no. 2
Date: July 2012
As food markets have become more globalized, consumers have become more concerned about the origin of the foods they eat with a decreased confidence in the quality and safety of foods produced outside their local region or country. Traceability systems address this concerns and the importance of establishing a link between a product, producer and place of production has therefore gained momentum as a trend.This paper describes the product attributes that influence the decision making process of consumers towards purchasing Karoo lamb. Karoo lamb is lamb meat that is specifically reared in the Karoo region of South Africa and has a distinctive taste associated with the grazing conditions in the Karoo. The information used in this paper was obtained in the first phase from three focus groups that were conducted to identify the product attributes that were critical in affecting the consumers’ preferences and choices regarding the product (lamb). In phase two conjoint analysis was used to measure the importance individual consumers attach to the different levels of the various product attributes and the utility they then attached based on their valuation of the complete product.Price as an extrinsic attribute was the most important factor in the decision making process of consumers when purchasing lamb. Safety and quality were also relatively important with food safety clearly an important consideration to consumers when buying meat. This is not surprising given the legacy of BSE and E-coli outbreaks that were given a lot of publicity in the press in the past. The origin attribute was however rated as of the lowest importance.Traceability can be meaningful to consumers but primarily in an indirect manner as the importance of traceability to consumers is in terms of its benefits such as safety and quality, in relation to aspects that they think are important regarding food in general. In the area for meat there is a need for fast and reliable systems to enable traceability along the full supply chain to provide safe and high quality food for the consumer as the end user with respect to origin.