Consumers' choice of chicken meat. The case of local dual-purpose breeds and local protein feedstuff.
by Cynthia Ileana Escobedo del Bosque
Date of Examination:2022-09-30
Date of issue:2022-10-27
Advisor:Prof. Dr. Achim Spiller
Referee:Prof. Dr. Achim Spiller
Referee:Prof. Dr. Daniel Mörlein
Referee:Prof. Dr. Oliver Musshoff
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EnglishAs poultry production and consumption have increased over the last decade, current production methods have been under scrutiny by several stakeholders, including consumers. Practices such as culling day-old male chicks from layer breeds due to their “non-profitability” have gathered attention and have raised ethical concerns regarding the current production practices and the impacts they have on animal welfare. As these concerns continue to grow, consumers have started looking for alternative products such as the use of dual-purpose breeds, i.e., breeds that can be used for both laying eggs (female) and producing meat (male). Although this concept is not familiar to many consumers, once explained it is seen as a positive alternative that is more animal-friendly than current practices. Additional to the ethical issues, the poultry industry requires a high amount of protein-rich feedstuff. Soybeans are widely used as a protein source in the poultry industry; however, the European Union’s yield cannot cover its demand and are therefore forced to import from overseas. The price volatility of this crop and concerns regarding sustainability issues related to the production (i.e., genetically modified organisms and deforestation) have led to the search for alternative locally produced protein-rich and affordable feedstuff. Faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is one of the oldest and most widely cultivated legumes in Europe. Due to their high protein content and rich amino acid composition, they can substitute soybeans as a protein source in poultry diet. Against this backdrop, this dissertation contributes to a deeper understanding of consumers’ acceptance of specific local and dual-purpose breeds, as well as their expectations from chicken farming. Moreover, this work contributes to the increasing literature regarding alternative protein sources for poultry feedstuff. Hence, this dissertation presents five research papers, from which three focus on the different attributes that lead to product acceptance, while the other two focus on different meat quality parameters of specific dual-purpose breeds and faba bean-based diets. In the first section (studies 1, 2, and 3) quantitative and qualitative methods were used to gather data to explore and understand whether chicken meat from local dual-purpose breeds and local protein feedstuff would be an accepted alternative to commercial chicken meat. The use of different methods, including eye-tracking, online questionnaires, and focus groups allowed to obtain data to help identify which extrinsic and intrinsic product attributes are preferred by consumers and whether these include our research subject. Results show that the use of chicken pictures as a communication outlet to identify breeds is only suitable for niche markets as most consumers do not want to see such pictures on their products. Additionally, price and product origin are the attributes consumers consider more relevant when purchasing chicken meat, followed by freshness, labels, and appearance. Although consumers are interested in dual-purpose breeds, this attribute by itself is not enough to motivate purchase, and therefore other important characteristics (e.g., animal welfare, product origin) have to be promoted as well. A lack of information on husbandry systems and animal welfare was considered, by consumers, to be a barrier in buying specific products. The second section (studies 4 and 5) of the dissertation focuses on product quality testing, i.e., physicochemical parameters, nucleotide content, proximal composition and sensory attributes. The data obtained from the different parameters allowed to examine whether the use of a high or low vicin/convincine content in a faba bean-based diet differed from a soybean-based diet, and whether this change was accepted by consumers. The results show that while there are slight differences in some physicochemical and sensory characteristics, the use of local faba beans does not compromise the quality of the chicken meat (breast fillets) of dual-purpose breeds Bresse Gauloise, Vorwerkhuhn, White Rock and the crossbreeds thereof. Similarly, a faba bean-based diet does not compromise hedonic consumer preference of chicken breast from the crossbreeds. As consumers are, in general, not well informed about poultry production systems it is difficult to highlight the positive aspects of using dual-purpose breeds and local protein feedstuff. And although consumers have in mind an ideal chicken farm that is far from the reality of current practices, they only take into account a few product attributes when purchasing chicken meat. Therefore, to successfully market dual-purpose breeds and local protein feedstuff, it is necessary to understand which attributes consumers value the most. While consumers are mostly in favor of dual-purpose breeds, this product attribute does not drive the purchase of the product. However, the promotion of regional feedstuff and regional production as well as highlighting the ethical issues tackled with dual-purpose breeds could incentive consumers to purchase such products, particularly if promoting local breeds. This information needs to be easily recognizable and understood so the advantages of these products are effectively communicated. Additional to these extrinsic properties, meat quality is also of relevance to consumers when purchasing chicken meat. Although there are many factors that can influence the meat quality of chicken, this research shows that faba beans can be used as an alternative to soybeans as protein feedstuff without compromising the physicochemical and organoleptic quality of the meat.
Keywords: meat quality; sensory analysis; consumer preference