Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) conducted a social media analysis to monitor Chinese consumers’ perceptions of the protein market, the perception of protein origin, and the changes in retail channel choice during the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the key findings was that Chinese consumers were talking about New Zealand beef more often.
Overall, the volume of conversations about protein has remained at similar levels to the pre-COVID-19 outbreak. However, Chinese consumers are increasingly talking about beef at the expense of pork. There has been an increase in conversations around beef from 37% of all protein conversations to just under a half – with most of these conversations positive.
“Beef is increasingly being talked about because of its perceived family health benefits and consumers discovered during the lockdown that they could easily buy beef online and cook it successfully at home, often for the first time,” said B+LNZ general manager of market development Nick Beeby.
Other findings included how concerns about continuing protection for families against coronavirus is driving consumer purchasing choices. Conversations show that health remains a strong driver of purchasing decisions, but they are now much more focused on immunity.
“We’re finding that claims like organic have spiked as shoppers are seeking pure, natural products, believing that it’s best for children and elderly,” said Beeby.
Switch to online
The coronavirus outbreak has also driven a switch to online shopping with traditional retail stores, wet markets and restaurants closing.
“Chinese consumers are historically less familiar with preparing beef and sheep meat at home but have had a lot more time to experiment with cooking and recipes,” said B+LNZ’s global market intelligence & research manager Hugh Good. “They’re now increasingly interested in convenience as a driver of purchases with an eight percent increase in conversations about protein convenience over the last few months. This is because consumers are now responsible for home preparation and are unable to use food service.”