Picky lovers of mutton
Norwegian mutton producers wish to enter the Italian market, but surveys carried out among 200 consumers in Italy show that Italians prefer to eat their own mutton. The same is true for Norwegians.
Italians are like Norwegians. They prefer to use their own raw materials, and people of both nationalities are sceptical of mutton from New Zealand, in spite of the large meat import from New Zealand to both countries.
"An Internet based consumer survey has been carried out with the aim of discovering how important the history of a product (origin and production method) is to consumers in the two markets," says consumer research scientist Margrethe Hersleth.
Quality conscious consumers
The survey has been carried out as part of the Arctic Lamb project, a collaboration involving actors such as Bioforsk, Nordlandsforskning, Gilde and Aron mat.
"This questionnaire was one of many studies in the project. Previously we have gathered consumers from each of the two countries in focus groups. The results from their discussions show that Italians are positive to Norwegian mutton and associate it with a clean environment and solid laws and regulations," explains Margrethe Hersleth. Sensory tests of several types of mutton ham produced in Norway as well as blind tests have been carried out among consumers in Norway.
Selection criteria for participants in the survey have included that they must like mutton and that they do not work with marketing, media or food. The survey includes the same amount of women and men aged between 20 and 70 years.
Most positive to mountain herding
"The electronic questionnaire included pictures of animals herded in the mountains and in the lowlands. We inserted flags with the pictures to show the consumers which country the animals were from. 200 responders from Norway and 200 from Italy answered identical surveys. The results show that while the Norwegians prefer meat from animals herded in the Norwegian mountains, the Italians prefer meat from animals herded in the Italian mountains," says Hersleth.
"Thanks to the new software we have at Nofima Mat, EyeQuestion, we are able to carry out large scale consumer surveys across the world. This is the first large questionnaire we have carried out outside Norway. We collaborate with a world leading research institute in Florence. It’s important for us to carry out such comparative studies between consumers in different countries and the results will give Norwegian companies important information regarding potential export," says Anne Segtnan.