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Does media influence consumer demand? The case of lean finely textured beef in the United States

Listed author(s):
  • Yadavalli, Anita
  • Jones, Keithly

In 2012, the media paid extra attention to lean finely textured beef (LFTB), an inexpensive lean beef product extracted from low-valued fatty trim. The media’s negative portrayal of LFTB as an unnecessary and unsavory additive to ground beef products corresponded with a spike in reports over a 6-month period. Since LFTB is often used in ground beef, it is likely that consumption of LFTB-based ground beef products and other meats could be affected. This paper used weekly meat production and sales data to assess how media depictions of LFTB affect consumer demand. We used a Central Bureau of Statistics model to test whether media portrayal affects the consumption of aggregate meats and beef cuts: pork, chicken, turkey, Choice beef, Prime beef, Select beef and ground beef. Results indicate that media portrayal of LFTB, measured by the number of articles on the subject weighted by consumer readership, did not lead to significant changes in consumer demand across meats or within the beef category immediately. However, consumer purchases of pork, turkey and Prime beef were affected two weeks or greater after news reports of LFTB surfaced. Nevertheless, those effects were temporary and waned or disappeared during later weeks. Our look at the LFTB controversy informs food policy by studying the media sources from which consumers obtain their information. As the temporary effects of news media on consumer demand for aggregate meats and disaggregate beef cuts suggest, consumers may benefit from receiving their news from industry and government sources instead.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919214001286
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

Volume (Year): 49 (2014)
Issue (Month): P1 ()
Pages: 219-227

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:49:y:2014:i:p1:p:219-227
DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.08.002
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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