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The long-term impact of the economic downturn on the red meat industry was one of the key topics at a marketing conference held by Quality Meat Scotland in Perthshire today (January 19th 2010).

Among those attending the event were leading retailers, processors and key opinion formers from the farming community.

Donald Biggar, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said the organisation conducts research every year to identify the key drivers in consumers’ purchase decisions.

The research presented today is key to our planning and ensuring the Scottish red meat industry is well-placed to deliver to meet consumers’ expectations,” said Mr Biggar.

Emphasising the importance of understanding what consumers want, Mr Biggar said Scotland was particularly proactive in adapting to meet the consumer needs identified by the research.

“The conference also offers an important horizon scanning opportunity for those companies which are extremely busy dealing with day to day work and find it difficult to take time for big picture planning,” he added.

Speakers at the event addressed the question of the extent to which consumer buying patterns have been affected by the recession.

“Price is back as the lead driver influencing consumer purchase decision-making,” said Laurent Vernet, QMS’s Head of Marketing.

“Consumers are divided into two types when it comes to price – one group is interested only in the cheapest product but the other group is looking for value for money and to be able to justify purchase decisions and why they should pay more,” said Mr Vernet.

These consumers are not necessarily looking for the cheapest product but they want to know it is a quality product, backed by guarantees.

The event’s workshop sessions included topics such as exporting meat to third countries and a focus on the butcher sector and the influence of the economic downturn on butchers.

Selected presentations from the day are available here.