This project examined whether the use of a dataset of representative supermarket purchases could help address a policy need in Scotland for more information on patterns of red meat purchases.
Research Approach:<BR> Data based on a panel of loyalty card holders from one of the ‘big four’ supermarkets was used. A dataset of two years of weekly aggregated data on individual red meat purchases was obtained and grouped into categories; the main ones being beef, pork, lamb, burgers and meatballs, meat pies, sausages, bacon and gammon, and ham. Purchasing differences were assessed according to geographical location, socio-economic status and lifestage. Sausage products were further analysed in relation to nutritional criteria.
Results and findings:<BR> Overall, there were considerable limitations in the use of this data and information from one supermarket chain is not equivalent to established methods of nutritional surveillance. However, results for those customers who bought red meat revealed little difference in the proportion of expenditure on each meat category within socio-economic and lifestage groups in Scotland, and between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Further analysis suggested that the more affluent bought more expensive sausages and that these were not necessarily healthier. The value of engaging with producers, suppliers and retailers to improve the nutritional composition of less healthy products was highlighted.
Purchasing behaviour of red meat buying customers<BR>
<LI> Results suggested that fewer loyalty card customers bought red meat from this particular supermarket chain in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK (18 per cent versus 32 per cent for unprocessed red meat and 23 per cent versus 38 per cent for processed red meat)
<LI> There was little difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK in the weekly number of packs bought by red meat buying customers (1.2 packs)
<LI> There was little difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK and within the socio-economic and lifestage groups in Scotland, in the proportion spent by customers on the different red meat categories
<LI> In Scotland, the largest share of expenditure was for beef (27 per cent), followed by bacon and gammon (16 per cent), ham (16 per cent), sausages (11 per cent), pork (6 per cent), lamb (5 per cent), meat-pies (5 per cent), burgers and meatballs (3 per cent)<P>
Analysis of sausage purchase in relation to price and nutritional criteria in Scotland <BR>
<LI> The affluent groups were more likely to buy more expensive sausages (based on price per 100g). The less affluent groups were more likely to buy cheaper sausages
<LI> There was little difference within the socio-economic and lifestage groups in the proportion of expenditure on sausages in relation to the saturated fat content (per 100g and as percentage energy) and sodium content (per 100g) of the sausages
<LI> There was no evidence of a relationship between price and saturated fat content (per 100g and as percentage energy) or price and sodium content (per 100g)
<LI> Further analysis of the top 10 products (which represented approximately 36 per cent of the total expenditure on sausages) suggested that it was possible to purchase a lower saturated fat or a lower sodium sausage for the same price as a higher saturated fat or sodium sausage. However it would cost more (per 100g) to achieve both a lower saturated fat and a lower sodium sausage
<LI> Data were collected from one supermarket chain and could not capture meat bought at other outlets
<LI> Information was not available at the level of individual shoppers and it was not possible to analyse data by product weights
<LI> It was not possible to analyse nutrient intake at an individual level or household level
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.