The Food Marketing Research Unit’s (FMRU) main role is to contribute to the improved strategic marketing performance of the Irish agri-food sector by addressing the need for more future-oriented consumer and market insights. Developing capabilities and use of best practices and technologies is critical to increasing employment, income, and profi tability. Through national and EU funding, Teagasc examines innovation at farm and firm level.

Recent Submissions

  • Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium

    Henchion, Maeve; Hayes, Maria; Mullen, Anne Maria; Fenelon, Mark; Tiwari, Brijesh (MDPI, 2017-07-20)
    A growing global population, combined with factors such as changing socio-demographics, will place increased pressure on the world’s resources to provide not only more but also different types of food. Increased demand for animal-based protein in particular is expected to have a negative environmental impact, generating greenhouse gas emissions, requiring more water and more land. Addressing this “perfect storm” will necessitate more sustainable production of existing sources of protein as well as alternative sources for direct human consumption. This paper outlines some potential demand scenarios and provides an overview of selected existing and novel protein sources in terms of their potential to sustainably deliver protein for the future, considering drivers and challenges relating to nutritional, environmental, and technological and market/consumer domains. It concludes that different factors influence the potential of existing and novel sources. Existing protein sources are primarily hindered by their negative environmental impacts with some concerns around health. However, they offer social and economic benefits, and have a high level of consumer acceptance. Furthermore, recent research emphasizes the role of livestock as part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions, and indicates that animal-based protein has an important role as part of a sustainable diet and as a contributor to food security. Novel proteins require the development of new value chains, and attention to issues such as production costs, food safety, scalability and consumer acceptance. Furthermore, positive environmental impacts cannot be assumed with novel protein sources and care must be taken to ensure that comparisons between novel and existing protein sources are valid. Greater alignment of political forces, and the involvement of wider stakeholders in a governance role, as well as development/commercialization role, is required to address both sources of protein and ensure food security.
  • Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium

    Henchion, Maeve; Hayes, Maria; Mullen, Anne Maria; Fenelon, Mark A.; Tiwari, Brijesh (MDPI, 2017-07-20)
    A growing global population, combined with factors such as changing socio-demographics, will place increased pressure on the world’s resources to provide not only more but also different types of food. Increased demand for animal-based protein in particular is expected to have a negative environmental impact, generating greenhouse gas emissions, requiring more water and more land. Addressing this “perfect storm” will necessitate more sustainable production of existing sources of protein as well as alternative sources for direct human consumption. This paper outlines some potential demand scenarios and provides an overview of selected existing and novel protein sources in terms of their potential to sustainably deliver protein for the future, considering drivers and challenges relating to nutritional, environmental, and technological and market/consumer domains. It concludes that different factors influence the potential of existing and novel sources. Existing protein sources are primarily hindered by their negative environmental impacts with some concerns around health. However, they offer social and economic benefits, and have a high level of consumer acceptance. Furthermore, recent research emphasizes the role of livestock as part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions, and indicates that animal-based protein has an important role as part of a sustainable diet and as a contributor to food security. Novel proteins require the development of new value chains, and attention to issues such as production costs, food safety, scalability and consumer acceptance. Furthermore, positive environmental impacts cannot be assumed with novel protein sources and care must be taken to ensure that comparisons between novel and existing protein sources are valid. Greater alignment of political forces, and the involvement of wider stakeholders in a governance role, as well as development/commercialization role, is required to address both sources of protein and ensure food security
  • Consumer evaluations of processed meat products reformulated to be healthier – A conjoint analysis study

    Shan, Liran C.; de Brun, Aoife; Henchion, Maeve; Li, Chenguan; Murrin, Celine; Wall, Patrick J.; monahan, Frank J. (Elsevier, 2017-05-01)
    Recent innovations in processed meats focus on healthier reformulations through reducing negative constituents and/or adding health beneficial ingredients. This study explored the influence of base meat product (ham, sausages, beef burger), salt and/or fat content (reduced or not), healthy ingredients (omega 3, vitamin E, none), and price (average or higher than average) on consumers' purchase intention and quality judgement of processed meats. A survey (n = 481) using conjoint methodology and cluster analysis was conducted. Price and base meat product were most important for consumers' purchase intention, followed by healthy ingredient and salt and/or fat content. In reformulation, consumers had a preference for ham and sausages over beef burgers, and for reduced salt and/or fat over non reduction. In relation to healthy ingredients, omega 3 was preferred over none, and vitamin E was least preferred. Healthier reformulations improved the perceived healthiness of processed meats. Cluster analyses identified three consumer segments with different product preferences.
  • Factors that predict consumer acceptance of enriched processed meats

    Shan, Liran C.; Henchion, Maeve; de Brun, Aoife; Murrin, Celine; Wall, Patrick G.; Monahan, Frank J. (Elsevier, 2017-07-08)
    The study aimed to understand predictors of consumers' purchase intention towards processed meat based functional foods (i.e. enriched processed meat). A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 486 processed meat consumers in spring 2016. Results showed that processed meats were perceived differently in healthiness, with sausage-type products perceived less healthy than cured meat products. Consumers were in general more uncertain than positive about enriched processed meat but differences existed in terms of the attitudes and purchase intention. Following regression analysis, consumers' purchase intention towards enriched processed meat was primarily driven by their attitudes towards the product concept. Perceived healthiness of existing products and eating frequency of processed meat were also positively associated with the purchase intention. Other factors such as general food choice motives, socio-demographic characteristics, consumer health and the consumption of functional foods and dietary supplements in general, were not significant predictors of the purchase intention for enriched processed meat.
  • The role of meat in strategies to achieve a sustainable diet lower in greenhouse gas emissions: A review

    Hyland, John J.; Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Mary; McCarthy, Sinead N. (Elsevier, 2017-04-21)
    Food consumption is responsible for a considerable proportion of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE). Hence, individual food choices have the potential to substantially influence both public health and the environment. Meat and animal products are relatively high in GHGE and therefore targeted in efforts to reduce dietary emissions. This review first highlights the complexities regarding sustainability in terms of meat consumption and thereafter discusses possible strategies that could be implemented to mitigate its climatic impact. It outlines how sustainable diets are possible without the elimination of meat. For instance, overconsumption of food in general, beyond our nutritional requirements, was found to be a significant contributor of emissions. Non-voluntary and voluntary mitigation strategies offer potential to reduce dietary GHGE. All mitigation strategies require careful consideration but on-farm sustainable intensification perhaps offers the most promise. However, a balance between supply and demand approaches is encouraged. Health should remain the overarching principle for policies and strategies concerned with shifting consumer behaviour towards sustainable diets.
  • The climatic impact of food consumption in a representative sample of Irish adults and implications for food and nutrition policy

    Hyland, John J.; Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Mary; McCarthy, Sinead (Cambridge University Press, 2016-09-26)
    To evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) associated with the diet of Irish adults. GHGE were estimated by applying conversion factors to habitual food consumption data taken from the National Adult Nutrition Survey, which was representative of the population. Descriptive analyses were undertaken for GHGE for the total population, as well as accounting for energy misreporting and across categories of sociodemographic and socio-economic factors and tertiles of emissions. Republic of Ireland. Adults aged 18–87 years (n 1500). The GHGE derived from daily dietary intakes was estimated as 6·5 kg of CO2 equivalents (CO2eq) per person. Males, younger consumers, those with secondary education and student employment status were associated with significantly higher GHGE. Red meat was the highest contributor to GHGE with 1646 g CO2eq arising from a mean intake of 47 g/d. Dairy and starchy staples were the next largest dietary GHGE sources, with mean daily emissions of 732 g CO2eq and 647 g CO2eq, respectively. The lowest emissions were associated with consumption of vegetables, fruits and legumes/pulses/nuts. Based on profiling using actual food consumption data, it is evident that one single measure is not sufficient and a range of evidence-based mitigation measures with potential to lower emissions throughout the food chain should be considered. The research contributes towards an improved understanding of the climatic impact of the dietary intakes of Irish adults and can serve to inform a sustainability framework to guide action in food and nutrition policy
  • Evaluation of beef eating quality by Irish consumers

    McCarthy, Sinead; Henchion, Maeve; White, A.; Brandon, K.; Allen, Paul (Elsevier, 2017-05-08)
    A consumer's decision to purchase beef is strongly linked to its sensory properties and consistent eating quality is one of the most important attributes. Consumer taste panels were held according to the Meat Standards Australia guidelines and consumers scored beef according to its palatability attributes and completed a socio-demographic questionnaire. Consumers were able to distinguish between beef quality on a scale from unsatisfactory to premium with high accuracy. Premium cuts of beef scored significantly higher on all of the scales compared to poorer quality cuts. Men rated grilled beef higher on juiciness and flavour scales compared to women. Being the main purchaser of beef had no impact on rating scores. Overall the results show that consumers can judge eating quality with high accuracy. Further research is needed to determine how best to communicate inherent benefits that are not visible into extrinsic eating quality indicators, to provide the consumer with consistent indications of quality at the point of purchase.
  • Stakeholder involvement in establishing a milk quality sub-index in dairy cow breeding goals: a Delphi approach

    Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, M.; Resconi, Virginia C.; Berry, Donagh P.; McParland, Sinead (Cambridge University Press, 2015-11-17)
    The relative weighting on traits within breeding goals are generally determined by bio-economic models or profit functions. While such methods have generally delivered profitability gains to producers, and are being expanded to consider non-market values, current approaches generally do not consider the numerous and diverse stakeholders that affect, or are affected, by such tools. Based on principles of respondent anonymity, iteration, controlled feedback and statistical aggregation of feedback, a Delphi study was undertaken to gauge stakeholder opinion of the importance of detailed milk quality traits within an overall dairy breeding goal for profit, with the aim of assessing its suitability as a complementary, participatory approach to defining breeding goals. The questionnaires used over two survey rounds asked stakeholders: (a) their opinion on incorporating an explicit sub-index for milk quality into a national breeding goal; (b) the importance they would assign to a pre-determined list of milk quality traits and (c) the (relative) weighting they would give such a milk quality sub-index. Results from the survey highlighted a good degree of consensus among stakeholders on the issues raised. Similarly, revelation of the underlying assumptions and knowledge used by stakeholders to make their judgements illustrated their ability to consider a range of perspectives when evaluating traits, and to reconsider their answers based on the responses and rationales given by others, which demonstrated social learning. Finally, while the relative importance assigned by stakeholders in the Delphi survey (4% to 10%) and the results of calculations based on selection index theory of the relative emphasis that should be placed on milk quality to halt any deterioration (16%) are broadly in line, the difference indicates the benefit of considering more than one approach to determining breeding goals. This study thus illustrates the role of the Delphi technique, as a complementary approach to traditional approaches, to defining breeding goals. This has implications for how breeding goals will be defined and in determining who should be involved in the decision-making process.
  • Transforming Beef By-products into Valuable Ingredients: Which Spell/Recipe to Use?

    Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Mary; O'Callaghan, Jim (Frontiers, 2016-11-30)
    Satisfying the increasing global demand for protein results in challenges from a supply perspective. Increased use of animal proteins, through greater use of meat by-products, could form part of the solution, subject to consumer acceptance. This research investigates consumer evaluations of food products that incorporate ingredients derived from offals that have been produced through a range of food processing technologies. Using focus groups incorporating product stimuli representing various combinations of offals, processing, and carrier products, the research finds that the physical state and perceived naturalness of the ingredients influences acceptance. It also highlights the impact of life experiences, linked to demographic characteristics, on interpretations and evaluations of products and processes. Ideational influences, i.e., knowledge of the nature or origin of the substance, are reasons for rejecting some concepts, with misalignment between nature of processing and the product resulting in rejection of others. Lack of perceived necessity also results in rejection. Alignment of ingredients with existing culinary practices and routines, communication of potential sensory, or other benefits as well as naturalness are factors likely to promote acceptance, and generate repeat purchase, in some consumer segments. Trust in oversight that the products are safe is a prerequisite for acceptance in all cases. These findings have implications for pathways to increase sustainability of beef production and consumption through increased use of beef by-products.
  • Consumer Assessment of Unmet Needs in the Development of Targeted and Appropriate Novel Food for the Over Sixty Fives

    Cummins, Helen; Corish, C. A.; Roche, H. M.; McCarthy, Sinead N. (Oxford University Press, 2016-09)
    Opportunities exist to produce foods specifically targeted to over 65s in order to promote healthy ageing. These findings have the potential to influence public health and nutrition policy developments in Ireland.
  • The Potential for Joint Farming Ventures in Irish Agriculture: A Sociological Review

    Cush, Peter; Macken-Walsh, Aine (De Gruyter, 2016-04-09)
    Joint farming ventures (JFVs) are promoted within Irish and EU policy discourses as strategies that can enhance the economic and social sustainability of family farming. Research has shown that JFVs, including arrangements such as farm partnerships, contract rearing and share farming, can potentially enable farmers to work cooperatively to improve farm productivity, reduce working hours, facilitate succession, develop skills and improve relationships within the farm household. In the context of increasing policy promotion of JFVs, there is a need to make some attempt at understanding the macro socio-cultural disposition of family farming to cooperation. Reviewing sociological studies of agricultural cooperation and taking a specific focus on the Irish contextual backdrop, this paper draws the reader’s attention to the importance of historical legacy, pragmatic economic and social concerns, communicative norms, inter-personal relationships, individualism and, policy and extension stimuli, all of which shape farmers’ dispositions to cooperation and to JFVs specifically.
  • Supply Chains Linking Food SMEs in Lagging Rural Regions in Ireland

    Henchion, Maeve; McIntyre, Bridin; Meredith, David; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2005-04-01)
    This report reflects the Irish contribution to a 3-year EU-funded research project, SUPPLIERS, which was concerned with the development, innovation, competitiveness and sustainability of food SMEs in lagging rural regions(LRRs) of the EU and Poland. It summarises the results of the research conducted in Ireland, evaluates these findings and makes recommendations to benefit food SMEs located in Ireland’s LRRs. Two regions were selected for study in Ireland. These were the West, comprising counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, and the Northwest, comprising counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. Both are classified as Objective 1 regions reflecting their predominantly rural character, economic disadvantage and relative remoteness from urban centres. Three food products were selected for detailed study in each region. Products selected in the West were mushrooms, farmed salmon and speciality foods and, in the Northwest, organic produce, farmed shellfish and prepared consumer foods. This product range encompassed a range of chains from local to international, integrated to fragmented, direct to indirect, providing a basis for comparison and evaluation of different chain structures. This summary report concentrates on the results of four surveys carried out over the course of the study. Producers, intermediaries, commercial customers and support institutions were surveyed.
  • An Assessment of the Irish Speciality Food Enterprises’ use of the Internet as a Marketing Tool

    Canavan, Orla; Henchion, Maeve; O’Reilly, Seamus (Teagasc, 2005-04-01)
    This study set out to explore the role of the Internet as a marketing tool for Irish speciality food producers and to research on-line speciality food sales as a business opportunity. The project achieved this through a combination of consumer focus groups, a producer web audit, producer depth interviews and an e-mailed on-line producer survey. Irish consumers acknowledged potential for on-line sales of Irish speciality food products to export and gift markets; however they could not see significant advantages for on-line sales in the domestic market. Experience with the product (and consequent importance of the purchase experience), the high delivery cost of an already premium priced product and difficulties associated with receipt of deliveries were identified as the main reasons for not purchasing on-line.
  • The creation of a healthy eating motivation score and its association with food choice and physical activity in a cross sectional sample of Irish adults

    Naughton, Paul; McCarthy, Sinead N.; McCarthy, Mary B. (Biomed Central, 2015-06-06)
    Background This study aimed to develop a healthy eating motivation score and to determine if dietary, lifestyle and activity behaviours vary across levels of motivation to eat a healthy diet with a view to informing health promotion interventions. Methods A cross-sectional survey of food intake, physical activity, lifestyles and food choice attitudes was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 1262 adults in the Republic of Ireland aged 18 years and over. Results Increasing score for health motivation was significantly and positively related to healthy eating and exercise. Women, increasing age, normal BMI, regular exercise and increasing intakes of fruit and vegetables were associated with a higher odds ratio (OR) for having a high healthy eating motivation score. However, despite a high motivation score only 31 % of consumers in the strong motivation group achieved the recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable consumption, while 57 % achieved the fat recommendation. A higher intake of calorie dense foods from the top shelf of the food pyramid and increased time spent watching T.V. was associated with a decreased OR for positive motivation towards healthy eating. Conclusions Healthy eating promotions directed at women and older adults should focus on supporting people’s motivations to attain a healthy diet by addressing issues such as dietary self-control and self-regulation. For men and younger adults, healthy eating promotions will need to address the issues underlying their weak attitudes towards healthy eating.
  • New Product Development Opportunities for Irish Companies in the British Cheese Market

    Cowan, Cathal; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2008-11-01)
    The primary objective of this research was to identify innovative cheese concepts appropriate for UK consumers and suitable for Irish industry to manufacture. It also aimed to identify personal, situational and market factors that influence consumers when purchasing cheese. This research study used existing market literature, in-depth interviews and consumer focus groups.
  • Development of a Strategic Approach for a Single EU Beef Market. Extensification. An Analysis of National and Competitive Issues

    Dunne, Liam; Shanahan, Ultan; O’Connell, John (Teagasc, 2008-12-31)
    The economic merits of the two Options for extensification under Agenda 2000 were evaluated in relation to their ability to generate revenue and their impact on the competitiveness of Irish cattle farming.
  • Improving Technology Transfer and Research Commercialisation in the Irish Food Innovation System

    Henchion, Maeve; O’Reilly, Paul; Kelly, Deborah; Buckley, Marie; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2009-10-01)
    The process by which knowledge generated by publicly-funded research is transferred to industry – technology transfer – has been criticised as being inefficient and having limited success. This research project aimed to obtain a better understanding of the technology transfer process and thereby contribute to policy development and provide guidance for researchers to improve the process. Through a series of focus groups, surveys, case studies and depth interviews, the research identified five key challenges that exist in the context of the Irish food innovation system. These relate to communication, industry capabilities, research capabilities, strategic management and socialisation. To address these challenges, a selection of tools, illustrative case studies and recommendations for a range of stakeholders on how to deal with each of these challenges is provided on the project website (www.dit.ie/toolbox/).
  • Factors Shaping Expenditure on Food-Away-from-Home in Irish and UK Households

    Keelan, Conor; Henchion, Maeve; Newman, Carol; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2009-10-01)
    Factors influencing consumer spending in two sectors of the food-away-from-home (FAFH) market (quick-service e.g. takeaways, and full-service e.g. restaurants) were analysed using national household expenditure survey data. Different variables affect expenditure in the two sectors in different ways. Income has a greater effect on expenditure in the full-service sector than in the quick-service sector. Similarly households that are health-conscious indicate a greater preference for full-service meals while households which place more value on time (and therefore are more convenience-oriented) indicate a greater preference for quick-service. Households of a higher social class and those with higher education levels also appear to favour full-service expenditure. In addition, younger, urbanised households favour quickservice meal options. The results emphasise the merits of analysing different sectors within the FAFH market separately.
  • Key factors influencing economic relationships and communication in European agri-food chains

    Henchion, Maeve; McIntyre, Bridin; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2008-09-01)
    This report reflects the Irish contribution to an EU-funded project which aimed to: clarify the relevance of business-to-business relationships and communication in European agri-food chains, and identify the economic, social and cultural factors that influence agri-food chain relationships and business-to-business communication. Such research was expected to be of use to companies seeking to develop more sustainable business relationships.The project considered meat and cereal commodities in six EU countries. In total thirteen agri-food chains were examined: five pig-to-pigmeat chains, three cattle-to-beef chains, two barley-to-beer chains and three cereals-to-bakery product chains. The pig-to-pigmeat and cattle-to-beef chains were examined in Ireland.
  • Meat consumption: Trends and quality matters

    Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Mary; Resconi, Virginia C.; Troy, Declan J. (Elsevier, 2014-07-10)
    This paper uses quality theory to identify opportunities for the meat sector that are consistent with trends in meat consumption. Meat consumption has increased and is likely to continue into the future. Growth is largely driven by white meats, with poultry in particular of increasing importance globally. The influence of factors such as income and price is likely decline over time so that other factors, such as quality, will become more important. Quality is complex and consumers' quality expectations may not align with experienced quality due to misconception of certain intrinsic cues. Establishing relevant and effective cues, based on extrinsic and credence attributes, could offer advantage on the marketplace. The use of extrinsic cues can help convey quality characteristics for eating quality, but also for more abstract attributes that reflect individual consumer concerns e.g. health/nutrition, and collective concerns, e.g. sustainability. However, attributes are not of equal value to all consumers. Thus consumer segmentation and production differentiation is needed.

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