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

  • Irish dairy farmers’ engagement with animal health surveillance services: Factors influencing sample submission

    McFarland, Lauren; Macken-Walsh, Áine; Claydon, Grace; Casey, Mícheál; Douglass, Alexander; McGrath, Guy; McAloon, Conor G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 17/S/230 (Science Direct, 2020-08-26)
    A high-quality animal health surveillance service is required to inform policy and decision-making in food-animal disease control, to substantiate claims regarding national animal health status and for the early detection of exotic or emerging diseases. In Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provides partially subsidized testing of farm animal samples and postmortem examinations to the Irish agriculture sector (farmers) at 6 regional veterinary laboratories (RVL) throughout the country. Diagnoses and data from these submissions are recorded and reported monthly and annually to enable animal health monitoring and disease surveillance. In a passive surveillance model, both the veterinary practitioner and the farmer play a vital role in sample submission by determining which cases are sent to the laboratory for postmortem or diagnostic testing. This paper identified factors influencing Irish dairy farmers' decisions to submit carcasses to RVL. Behavioral determinants of the submission of samples where veterinary professionals are concerned has been studied previously; however, limited work has studied determinants among farmers. This study conducted qualitative analyses of decisions of Irish dairy farmers relevant to diagnostic sample submission to an RVL and to examine the herd-level characteristics of farmers that submitted cases to an RVL. The biographical narrative interpretive method was used to interview 5 case-study farmers who were classified nonsubmitters, medium, or high submitters to the postmortem service based on the proportion of on-farm mortalities submitted to the laboratory service in 2016. The data obtained from these interviews were supplemented and triangulated through dairy farmer focus groups. The data were thematically analyzed and described qualitatively. In addition, quantitative analysis was undertaken. Data for herds within the catchment area of a central RVL were extracted, and a multivariable logistic regression model was constructed to examine the relationship between herds from which carcasses were submitted to the laboratory and those from which none were submitted. Results from the analysis show that the farmer's veterinary practitioner was the primary influence on submission of carcasses to the laboratory. Similarly, the type of incident, logistical issues with transporting carcasses to the laboratory, influence of peers, presence of alternative private laboratories, and a fear of government involvement were key factors emerging from the case-study interview and focus group data. Herd size was identified in both the qualitative and quantitative analysis as a factor determining submission. In the logistic regression model, herd size and increased levels of expansion were positively correlated with the odds of submission, whereas distance from the laboratory was negatively associated with odds of submission. These results identify the main factors influencing the use of diagnostic services for surveillance of animal health, signaling how services may be made more attractive by policy makers to a potentially wider cohort of users.
  • Barriers to uptake of technology in animal production

    Macken-Walsh, Aine (Teagasc, 2019-12-06)
    Presentation from the Joint Teagasc-SRUC Conference "Rural Futures II: Towards sustainable solutions for Ruminant Pastoral Agricultural Systems in Scotland and Ireland"
  • The Impact of a Values-Based Supply Chain (VBSC) on Farm-Level Viability, Sustainability and Resilience: Case Study Evidence

    Hooks, Teresa; Macken-Walsh, Aine; McCarthy, Olive; Power, Carol; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (MDPI, 2017-02-14)
    The ‘Agriculture of the Middle’ (AotM) development paradigm emphasises that in order to survive, family farms must transition from a supply chain approach to a values-based supply chain (VBSC) approach, involving amendments to both product type and actor dynamics within the chain. This paper presents a qualitative case study of a beef co-operative integrated to a VBSC. We use an analytical framework of viability, sustainability and resilience to analyse impacts at farm-level. Our analysis highlights a number of positive effects on farm-level viability, sustainability and resilience. These benefits stemmed largely from improvements to market orientation, price stability, and members’ capacities in responding to problems. However, the autonomy of the co-operative was challenged by VBSC chain members, which impacted negatively on the stability of the co-operative.
  • Making sense of altmetrics: The perceived threats and opportunities for academic identity

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; CommBeBiz Project; European Union; 652707 (Oxford University Press, 2019-01-30)
    How research impact is defined and evaluated is much-debated at research policy level. Offering one avenue for capturing societal research impact, altmetrics are proposed as quantitative indicators providing a measure of the reach and attention that a research output, such as a peer-reviewed paper, is receiving online. Eighty publicly-funded food researchers participated in an online mixed-methods engagement study. The analytical framework of sensemaking was used to explore participants’ views of altmetrics as a threat or opportunity for their perceived professional identities. The identities important to our participants included ensuring rigour and quality in knowledge production; communicating and engaging with non-academic audiences; and bringing about tangible and meaningful changes in society. While an appetite for changes to research evaluation was apparent in our study, altmetrics was perceived to introduce a number of different threats as well as opportunities to the academic identity, which will influence its potential uptake and use.
  • Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium

    Henchion, Maeve; Hayes, Maria; Mullen, Anne Maria; Fenelon, Mark; Tiwari, Brijesh K; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/F/043 (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.
  • Farmer engagement with agri-environment schemes in a commonage setting in Co. Mayo

    McCarthy, Jack (Teagasc, 2018)
    This document summarises research carried out in a commonage sheep farming area of County Mayo between January and August of 2017. The research seeks to better understand commonage farmer perceptions and engagement with agri-environment schemes.
  • The Significance of Short Food Supply Chains: Trends and Bottlenecks from the SKIN Thematic Network

    Hyland, John J.; Crehan, Patrick; Colantuono, Fedele; Macken-Walsh, Aine; European Union; 728055 (Research Institute of Agricultural Economics, 2019-08-13)
    Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) are central to the alternative food movement discourse. SFSCs are based upon the interrelations among actors who are directly involved in the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food products. They depend upon actors mobilising resources of various kinds: skills; knowledge; labour; capital; buildings etc. External factors such as policies and regulations can also encourage the creation of these shorter chains. The development of SFSCs can still be hindered by a range of other factors. Nevertheless, bottlenecks can be overcome via the sharing of information on successful SFSCs through the dissemination of Good Practices between various actors and territories. The Short Supply Chain Knowledge and Innovation (SKIN) project uses the term ‘good’ rather than ‘best’ practice to draw attention to the subjective lens through which a practice is ultimately evaluated by an end-user. This paper first outlines the many issues that confront SFSC actors which represent bottlenecks to the adoption of ‘Good Practices’. It then documents the Good Practices collected as part of the SKIN project as tangible examples of how SFSCs overcome such challenges. Lessons learnt from project highlights are subsequently assessed in an effort to mitigate and offer solutions to the challenges associated with SFSCs. The paper demonstrates the considerable latent potential inherent to SFSCs. However, in order for the agricultural sector to realise the full promise of short supply chains it must first be conscious of the issues pertinent to their prosperity.
  • Teagasc submission made in response to the Discussion document for the preparation of a National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy

    Henchion, Maeve; Devaney, Laura; Caslin, Barry; Fenton, Owen; Fenelon, Mark; Finn, Sean; Finnan, John; Ní Fhlatharta, Nuala; Gaffney, Michael; Hayes, Maria; et al. (Teagasc, 2017-09-19)
    This document is Teagasc’s response to the “Discussion Document for the Preparation of a National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy” issued by the Department of the Taoiseach’s Economic Division in July 2017. It recognises the potential significance of the bioeconomy to Ireland, offers some policy and strategic insights from other countries, and identifies Teagasc’s role in supporting the development of the bioeconomy in Ireland.
  • If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door: Reflecting on a Bioeconomy Policy Agenda for Ireland

    Devaney, Laura; Henchion, Maeve; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 14/SF/857 (The Economic and Social Review, 2017-06-30)
    The development of the bioeconomy offers an alternative economic mode of growth whereby renewable biological resources are transformed to meet food, feed, fuel and fibre needs. Ireland however lacks a cohesive bioeconomy policy to guide this development. Drawing on a strategic analysis of the resource base in Ireland, this paper sets the scene for the development of the Irish bioeconomy. A number of case study opportunities are outlined, followed by a critical analysis of Irish bioeconomy-related policy. The analysis culminates in a bioeconomy policy illustration that highlights the number of competing interests in the bioeconomy arena, alongside the wider governance context that will influence the development of a comprehensive national bioeconomy policy.
  • Social media and academic identity in food research

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; European Union; H2020-ISIB-2014-1 (Emerald, 2020-02-01)
    Purpose With increasing emphasis on public engagement and scientific communication and dissemination, scientists are increasingly required to redefine their academic identity. Theoretical frameworks of academic identity and social media functionality were used to explore food researchers' attitudes towards social media. Design/methodology/approach An online study was carried out with 80 scientists working in publicly funded food research. Findings Commitment to scientific rigour, disseminating science to society, and being part of an academic community were important facets of academic identity and shaped participants' perceptions of social media functions. Functions offered by social media were most favourably viewed by the food research community for academic peer engagement and academic community building. Social implications Cultural and organisational changes are needed to mobilise food researchers to view public engagement as an important facet of academic identity. Originality/value The current study adds to the theoretical literature on academic identity and social media functionality by providing empirical evidence outlining how scientists working in publicly funded food research feel about engaging with social media within their professional role.
  • ‘Smart farming’ in Ireland: A risk perception study with key governance actors

    Regan, Aine; Teagasc; 0387 (Elsevier, 2019-02-14)
    As research and innovation around Smart Farming further advances, there is a need to consider the impact of these technologies including the socio-economic, behavioural and cultural issues that may arise from their adoption. The current study explores the perceived risks and benefits arising from the development of Smart Farming in Ireland and in particular focuses on the different interpretations ascribed to risk issues by different actors. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 21 actors who through their professional positions have some level of responsibility for the growth of Smart Farming in Ireland. Although the participants in the current study were largely in agreement about the benefits presented by Smart Farming for Irish agriculture and society, they held different interpretations and opinions when discussing identified risks. The main concerns related to consumer rejection of technologies, inequitable distribution of risks and benefits within the farming community, adverse socio-economic impacts of increased farmer-technology interactions, and ethical threats presented by the collection and sharing of farmers’ data. The current study reinforces how ambiguity can surround the discussion of risks as individuals form perceptions based on divergent value judgements. The findings reinforce the call for discourse-based management of risks and the embedding of frameworks such as Responsible Research and Innovation within Smart Farming.
  • Ethical, moral and social dimensions in farm production practices: a segmentation study to assess Irish consumers’ perceptions of meat quality

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; McIntyre, Bridin (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-03-09)
    Growing consumer concerns with modern farming and food production systems indicate a significant market opportunity for meat production practices that consider ethical, moral and social value traits. In the current study, we aimed to identify and characterise distinct segments of Irish consumers based on their perceptions of the quality of meat from different farm-level production practices (organic farming, high animal welfare standards, free range farming, and “natural”, treatment-free feeding regimes). An online survey was carried out with 251 Irish meat consumers. Using cluster analysis, we identified three distinct segments: “Target consumers”, “Purist consumers” and “Disinterested consumers”. Chi-square analyses revealed differences between the segments based on gender, age and meat-purchasing motivations. The results provide insight into the opportunities that exist for exploring new viable market segments as well as for engaging Irish consumers and empowering them with information around the ethical, social and moral aspects of farm-level practices related to meat production.
  • Reconstituting Male Identities through Joint Farming Ventures in Ireland

    Cush, Peter; Macken-Walsh, Aine; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11.S.151 (Wiley, 02/03/2018)
    The analysis of this article is located in the theoretical interplay between the concepts of identity and masculinity, contributing to the ongoing debate on gendered identities and masculinities in family farming. Our focus in this article is specifically on men who established formal collaborative arrangements (Joint Farming Ventures, JFVs) with fellow farmers, including family members. We present an empirical analysis of primary qualitative data, using the Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM), which has particular analytical purchase in the study of identity. Our analysis finds that formal collaborative arrangements in the form of JFVs are employed as resilience strategies by male farmers. The strategies strive to continue the performance of some traditional masculinity traits but markedly involve the renegotiation of hegemonic masculine identity forms, resonant with debates elsewhere on reconstituting gender norms in family farming. Our narrative analysis finds that men's entry to and operation of JFVs entail a conscious and active relinquishing of dominant decision‐making power on their farms, an openness to the views and opinions of others, and a greater willingness to help‐seek and express emotions.
  • Examining the ‘cultural sustainability’ of two different ways of governing fishing practices

    Gustavsson, Madeleine; School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool (Elsevier, 26/03/2018)
    Research has suggested there is a need for an increased attention to the socio-cultural lifeworlds of fishers and fisheries and its importance for fisheries management. An emerging response to this call has been to examine the social and cultural contexts of ‘good fishing’ – an idea which, drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, has sought to move the discussion beyond simply the economic aspects of fishing to also understand the importance of other forms of capital. Utilising these concepts together with the conceptual idea of ‘knowledge cultures’, the following paper examines the ‘cultural sustainability’ of different ways of governing fishing practices – in particular Marine Conservation Zones and voluntary lobster v-notching using a case study approach to the small-scale fishery of Llŷn peninsula, North Wales (UK). The paper observes that those approaches that allow fishers to demonstrate skills and recognises the temporal contingency of fishing lives can be considered more culturally sustainable than others. This paper also notes that culturally acceptable changes to fishing practices can be supported by fishing regulations and, the paper suggests, such innovations are more likely to be taken up by fishers in their everyday fishing practices. The paper recommends that policies seeking to alter fishing practices consider: i) the importance fishers’ hold in demonstrating their skills; ii) how social relations are as important as economic aspects to fishers’ long-term uptake of new practices; and iii) how the past and the future (such as if a successor is present) holds significance for fishers’ actions in the present.
  • Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium

    Henchion, Maeve; Hayes, Maria; Mullen, Anne Maria; Fenelon, Mark; Tiwari, Brijesh K; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/F/043 (MDPI, 20/07/2017)
    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; Tiwari, Brijesh K; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (MDPI, 20/07/2017)
    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; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/F/035 (Elsevier, 01/05/2017)
    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; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/F/035 (Elsevier, 08/07/2017)
    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.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 13/F/527 (Elsevier, 21/04/2017)
    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 N.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 13/F/527 (Cambridge University Press, 26/09/2016)
    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

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