The consumer’s decision to buy meat forms the basis of and is the initiating event in the subsequent development of the meat industry chain. Due to the heterogeneous composition of consumer groups, consumers have widely divergent expectations of the product, their understanding of “value” being the most important criteria, i.e. the quantity and quality characteristics of the product relative to other types of food and consumer commodities. In this value package the consumer requires a reasonable price in a marketing service that is attractive and contains the necessary information. Ultimately the consumer eats meat because he / she enjoys it.
The quantity and quality characteristics of red meat that eventually reach the consumers are affected by one or more of the various pre-slaughter and post-slaughter factors. These factors are the genetics, physiology and environment of the animal, the slaughtering process; and finally the storage, processing, marketing and consumption conditions of the meat. Figure 1 shows the links in the Value Chain of beef as an example, namely producers, middlemen and consumers.
All facets of research on red meat production and the products of red meat producing livestock should therefore attempt to fully take into acc
ount the effect of all the links. The more familiar factors can be controlled, whereas research on the less familiar factors requires urgent attention.