The most important factors when encouraging consumers to buy red meat includes “foodie imagery”, health and provenance messaging and reassurance about the environment and farming methods.

This is according to new research from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in collaboration with Basic Research.

The ‘Consumer Insights: Optimising red meat labelling’ research focused on how producers and retailers can optimise red meat packaging and labelling to encourage shoppers to buy red meat and improve long-term perceptions of the industry.

While spend has increased over the last few years, volumes of red meat purchased have declined year-on-year since peaking in 2020.

AHDB said its preciously analysed data shows that there is a need to “re-engage shoppers” with the red meat category, both in store and online.

The latest research revealed that there are “clear consumer preferences” of what should be included on the pack, regardless of the type of meat or cut, AHDB said.

These can be split into three main categories, consisting of:

  • Inspiring with ‘foodie imagery’;
  • Informing with health and provenance messaging;
  • Reassuring about the environment and farming methods.


On-pack inspiration has the biggest impact on whether shoppers decide to buy a product, with consumers being drawn to images of tasty, well-presented dishes.

Therefore, AHDB said, having “strong foodie imagery” on packaging is essential.

In the case of pork medallions, pork loins and beef steaks, more than half of shoppers taking part in the research selected the labels with ‘foodie imagery’ as their favourite (64%, 57% and 56% respectively).

AHDB also found that having information on cooking times gives consumers more confidence – particularly for less familiar cuts, such as lamb. 

One consumer involved in the research said: “I find the photograph appealing and if I were feeling indecisive about what to cook, the photo would inspire further food shopping.”  

Shoppers also reported a desire to see information about health and provenance on packaging, particularly messaging around fat, vitamin and mineral content.

They also like to know if meat is of British origin, the farming methods used to produce it – such as grass-fed or free-range – and whether it meets any assurance scheme standards, AHDB said.

73% of those involved in the study and who were interested in health said that “lean and low in fat” messaging would encourage them to buy the product.

In contrast, 35% said that “regeneratively-farmed” would push them to buy.  

AHDB retail and consumer insight manager, Grace Randall, said: “It’s so important that retailers and producers understand the needs, desires and drives of their consumers. 

“It’s clear from this research that shoppers want to feel confident in the quality of their meat, which comes from taste, health benefits and production methods.

“By helping them to feel informed and inspired we can help drive their red meat purchases. 

“AHDB want to showcase the optimised label concepts created in this study and we encourage producers and retailers within the industry to initiate change and to reach out to AHDB for further support.”