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Irradiated Ground Beef: The Adoption Decision by Supermarkets and Grocery


<OL> <LI> Measure the degree to which overall merchandising philosophy, labeling requirements, and beliefs about consumer acceptance affect the expected adoption rate of irradiated ground beef by supermarkets and grocery stores. <LI> Measure the impact that profitability considerations (including potentially higher consumer or purchase prices, or cost savings from increased extended shelf life and reduced risks of product liability) affect retailers' decisions to adopt irradiated ground beef. <LI> Quantify the intensity (in terms of volume or shelf space) at which retailers will adopt irradiated ground beef.<LI> Measure the importance of alternative labeling requirements on retailers' decisions to adopt irradiated ground beef.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: During the past year, the USDA amended meat inspection regulations to permit ionizing radiation for treating uncooked red meats to reduced the level of foodborne pathogens. This survey and study will examine retailers' perceptions and willingness to sell irradiated ground beef and quantify the factors that affect their adoption decision.


APPROACH: An econometric model - described as a double-hurdle model with sample selection - will be developed to mirror the decision process for supermarket and grocery store retailers of ground beef. Supermarkets and grocery stores will be surveyed and asked about their merchandising philosophy, food safety concerns, ground beef operation, and other factors that might influence their decision to sell irradiated ground beef. The econometric model will be applied to the survey data.


PROGRESS: 2001/07 TO 2005/06<BR>
The year 2004 marked a major change for supermarkets and grocery stores considering the sale of or already selling irradiated ground beef. In January, the industry's primary technology provider, SureBeam Corp., declared bankruptcy and immediate began liquidating its assets. While a few other technology providers offering gamma-ray irradiation continue to serve the industry, at year's end, food retailers are still without a major supplier of electronic beam irradiated ground beef. This development has substantial bearing on the objectives of the research project. Nonetheless, industry outcomes prior to SureBeam's bankruptcy may be sufficient to draw several important conclusions about supermarkets' adoption decision. In early 2004, data from two surveys implemented by the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota were delivered to the principal investigator. These data are currently being analyzed by the principal investigator and subcontractors. Initial findings suggest that the adoption decision was influenced more by standard competitive practices in the retail food industry rather than by special product attributes of irradiated ground beef. More specifically, we observe 'follower' behavior, where there is a strong positive correlation between the chances that a supermarket will adopt irradiate ground beef and the chances that a store's competitors have already adopted.
IMPACT: 2001/07 TO 2005/06<BR>
This research will provide information about the private label introduction of irradiated ground beef. Store managers and meat department specialists are particularly well suited to investigate the in-store economics of irradiated meat products and any important customer reactions to the new product. This information will help industry personnel, policy makers, and others identify potential obstacles or other issues related to the introduction of irradiated products.

Jaenicke, Edward (Ted)
Pennsylvania State University
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