Nearly a third of meat sales are driven by appearance of the product, according new research.
The "Shopping Decision Process for Meat" report, commissioned by the English Beef & Lamb Executive to look at what influences shoppers, revealed supermarket shoppers spend most of their time while they are in the store in the meat and fresh produce aisles. It found that 31% of meat purchases were based on how the product looks. Price accounted for 23% of purchase decisions, followed by the type of cut at 11%.
Significantly, it also highlighted that almost one in five shoppers would not buy anything if their first choice was not available.
Chris Leeman, from Eblex, told me: "The report provides a valuable overview of purchasing behaviour in supermarkets and what prompts shoppers to choose one particular meat cut in preference to another."
He said it was only with this sort of knowledge and insight that the industry could genuinely provide shoppers with what they wanted – and help drive growth of demand, and ultimately sales.
That report, of course, dealt with red meat. I wonder to what extent appearance affects the purchase of sausages? Probably not quite so much.
My favourite sausage, by far and away, is the Cornish hogs' pudding, with which I start the day whenever possible, popping slivers under the grill for breakfast. But a hogs' pud is not exactly a thing of beauty.
My preference may in part be tribal – comfort food from my youth, when the products of Crowle & Moss were part of the staple diet. But, in fact, I like to try out local sausages wherever I am – the grits puddings of Devon, white puddings of Shropshire, Cumberland sausages, and black puddings in the North of England (in Northumberland it much resembles a malt loaf).
My trips around Cornwall, too, allow me to sample the local hogs' puds, all with different recipes and flavours; Philip Johnson's "herby" variety, from Bodmin, is a particular favourite.
Last week I was in Camborne and bought a hogs' pud from Pooleys – peppery flavoured and absolutely delicious, and good value for money.