Australian consumers’ preferences for marbling and fat
Marbling and fat content play an ambiguous role in consumers' preferences for meat. On one side intramuscular fat (marbling) increases the tenderness and enhances the flavor profile of beef, and should accordingly be positively valued by consumers. Conversely, consumption of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids have been related to increased risks of coronary heart diseases and other health issues, accordingly providing disutility to consumers. Results from a choice experiment with more than 1,800 Australian beef consumers provides insights into how consumers make trade-offs between taste and health aspects of beef related to intramuscular (marbling) and extramuscular (fat trim) fat content and other product information. We observe that consumers generally prefer low levels of extra-muscular fat but differ in their preferences for intramuscular marbling levels. Implications of these findings for health policy and beef marketing will be discussed.