Red meat for wellbeing

Overseas consumers have a strong interest in improving their wellbeing through eating red meat, newly published research shows; highlighting opportunities to achieve a premium for products with proven health benefits. Words Rebecca Greaves.

In Research3 Minutes
Carolina Realini

Crown research institute AgResearch partnered with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to survey attitudes among red meat eaters in Australia and the United States towards physical and mental wellness related to consumption of red meat.

The United States and Australia both play crucial roles in the domestic and global red meat market, serving as major producers and exporters of red meat, and having substantial red meat consumption per capita.

When asked, more than 90% of survey participants across the two countries indicated interest in purchasing red meat to improve their wellness status, while about 85% indicated their willingness to pay more for red meat for potential wellness benefits. “While survey participants from both countries shared a common view on improving physical energy as a key wellness aspect, their specific interests differed,” says AgResearch senior scientist Carolina Realini. “American respondents showed greater interest in improving cognitive function and mood through the consumption of red meat, whereas Australians emphasised joint and gut health.” 

Dr Realini says the nutritional benefit of red meat such as beef and lamb are already well-documented in previous research. The high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals from red meat are known to be vital to good health throughout life, and linked to brain function and mood. “We still have some way to go to be able to provide compelling and specific evidence of physical and mental wellness benefits from red meat consumption,” Dr Realini says. 

“We know that red meat producers in New Zealand are currently facing significant challenges and are actively looking for opportunities for better prospects in the future. The survey results suggest a promising opportunity for producers to develop tailored products to align with consumers’ wellness preferences, individual needs, and various life stages; and clearly communicating the benefits of these tailored offerings to consumers.

“As researchers, the onus is on us to provide the trusted, robust scientific evidence that supports the recommended levels of red meat consumption as beneficial for wellness. Such evidence is crucial to enable the red meat industry to make health claims about their products with confidence, while policymakers are encouraged to promote healthier food choices.”