About three decades ago, normal markets for offal meat progressively declined due to the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) otherwise called mad cow disease. The exclusion of offal meat for human consumption in the food chain was done to protect the public from the spread of BSE disease [1
]. Although the re-occurrence of the reported outbreak or spread of the BSE disease declined in a remarkable manner after the exclusion of offal from the human diet and animal feed [1
]. Consequently, purchase of offal meat decreased in regions that were affected because of the undesirable brand image of the by-product and was strongly constrained into pet food products [3
Presently, offal meat is now seen as an excellent source of protein for several people across the continents and are now considered as delicacies used as basic traditional dishes. This is due to its potential to combat protein malnutrition and food insecurity in many countries [4
]. In this regard, offal meat has been re-incorporated as constituents of traditional diets in many countries. At times, offal meat may be utilized on regular basis in a low-cost approach, as in pastries (for example, steak pie, pepper steak pie, and steak and kidney pie), to get high-quality protein and nutrition. In South Africa, carcass meat may be preferred but abattoir managers would have preferred that an animal produce twice or more offal than what they get presently. This is due to the increase in demand for offal meat consumption and the inability to keep up with such demand. Presently, meat and offal meat are a vital piece in the human diet as a result of the nutritional benefits obtained from these products [5
]. The nutritional benefits enjoyed by society cannot be over emphasized. However, meat and offal meat has proven to be an excellent source of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals that resourcefully enhance outstanding performance in human body systems [6
Grunert et al. [7
] in their study reported that consumers’ perception of various products are influenced by attitudes and belief. Beliefs play a key role in the acceptance or rejection of a product because it could change the perception and image of that product [8
]. Therefore, perception is defined as the method where consumers select, organize, and interpret information for immediate decision making [9
]. Consumers usually form their feelings about the expected quality for meat while at the point of purchase [10
]. “The decision to buy and eat meat is a direct outcome of how meat is perceived by the consumer” [11
]. This is directly related to quality cue, which could be better explained as informational stimuli accessible by the consumer prior to purchase [12
]. Quality cues are prerequisite required for consumers to evaluate displayed products and make a final decision at the point of purchase [14
]. On the other hand, “perceived cues” are expected or experienced attributes of the offal meat that forms consumers approach towards the product. Previous experience plays a pivotal role in consumers’ judgments about expected quality as some cues may be perceived as being more relevant than others [15
]. However, past research revealed that consumers may differ in their dependence on both intrinsic and extrinsic cues as well as in their capability to correctly measure product cues accurately [17
]. For this reason, it is important to understand the respective influence of quality cues in consumers’ perception of offal quality appraisal to enhance attributes most likely to influence consumers’ opinions. It is well known that offal tends to have an undesirable brand image before now and this may affect the emotions and consumers behavior [8
]. This negative approach toward offal meat production and consumption could be weakly exhibited in the behavior and perception of the consumers. Typically, the attitudes and belief of the consumer on offal may depend on the acceptance of the product and their features [7
]. Presently, offal products are now relevant in our meals and diets regardless of the earlier global negative outlooks towards them [8
]. This is because consumers have passed the stage of vague ideas in which some confidence is placed on offal as an odd animal product.
Normally, consumers’ perception on carcass meat quality is directly related to the visual appearance (color, fat content, marbling, and drip loss) and their preferred point of purchase [20
]. The visual appearance of meat related products has a close interaction with the meat color, therefore indicates a systemic relationship. In addition, meat color is associated with the diverse forms of the sarcoplasmic protein myoglobin [21
] and it is also considered as the key fresh meat features that consumers look for before purchase [22
]. In beef, for instance, dark colored meat could face acceptability problem when customers are actually looking for a bright red meat at the point of purchase [10
]. The freshness of meat is therefore related to the bright color of carcass meat for predicting meat quality. Consumers normally believe that freshness of meat in a sanitized purchase outlet provides assurance for safer meat [24
]. However, some of the consumers in South Africa are too casual about meat safety, hence the purchase of meat and offal from street vendors which may be susceptible to health concerns [25
Acceptability of meat and offal meat may be influenced by tradition, norms, and custom of a particular society. For this reason, assessment of quality cues could take place within the thoughts of consumer and altered by individual preference, thus judgments on meat quality vary from persons through societies and cultures [16
]. As a result of this, preferences have been observed to vary within the same region and outside different regions [26
]. Therefore, Steenkamp [15
] concluded that whenever a quality assessment is carried out by any consumer, it is done and established on their past accumulated knowledge and information about the product.
Several studies on consumers’ perception of fresh meat quality, the perception of consumers on the quality of mutton, factors associated with perceived beef quality, consumer perception and the role in the meat industry have been published [6
] but those studies did not consider offal meat. However, to the best of our knowledge, limited studies have focused on consumers’ perception of offal meat consumption. In South Africa, however, there are insufficient data on consumer preference for offal meat consumption and the effects in the offal supply chain. It is therefore important to understand the factors influencing consumer actions when purchasing offal meat and their preferred outlet for such a purchase. This study, therefore, sought to identify factors that were more important to the consumer in offal consumption and purchase in Amathole District of South Africa.
From the respondents who participated in this survey, it was revealed that consumers had a higher preference for offal meat products from the butchery because it was cheaper, readily available and fresher. Most of the consumers strongly agreed that the meat quality attributes influenced their decision during the purchase of offal meat. However, variables such as the color, price, freshness, visual display and packaging of the offal were ranked as the most influential in making choice to purchase in comparison to other factors such tenderness and fat content. The point of purchase, however, remains a prominent factor among other factors that could influence decision making for any consumer. When it comes to offal meat, the results showed that the majority of consumers purchased more liver, intestine, and tripe because they are often sold in a combo at the butchery. However, some consumers may expect distinct or special quality attributes based on their individual experience. It is also known that consumers’ mental attitude and insight about acceptable quality attributes could be attached to their socioeconomic status and personal preference.
In addition, the findings of the study inferred that nearly all types of offal meat are consumed in Amathole district, especially liver, kidney, tripe, intestines, heart, and tongue, while kidney and spleen were mentioned by some respondents to be mostly consumed by men. The foremost factors influencing offal consumption comprised of availability of offal meat, price, freshness, nutritional value, and health reasons. These offal meat products are nutritionally appropriate for different age groups, especially children and women. The perception of consumers on offal meat consumption is similar to the indicators and factors that are considered when the consumer is about to purchase red meat, which suggests the results are important for developing effective growth strategies to promote the offal meat market in the municipality. In addition, this means that municipalities need to re-orientate and enlighten people about the nutritional benefits, as well as food safety and health implications of offal consumption.