As food markets have become more globalized, consumers have become more concerned about the origin of
the foods they eat with a decreased confidence in the quality and safety of foods produced outside their local
region or country. Traceability systems address this concerns and the importance of establishing a link
between a product, producer and place of production has therefore gained momentum as a trend.
This paper describes the product attributes that influence the decision making process of consumers towards
purchasing Karoo lamb. Karoo lamb is lamb meat that is specifically reared in the Karoo region of South Africa
and has a distinctive taste associated with the grazing conditions in the Karoo. The information used in this
paper was obtained in the first phase from three focus groups that were conducted to identify the product
attributes that were critical in affecting the consumers' preferences and choices regarding the product (lamb).
In phase two conjoint analysis was used to measure the importance individual consumers attach to the
different levels of the various product attributes and the utility they then attached based on their valuation of
the complete product.
Price as an extrinsic attribute was the most important factor in the decision making process of consumers
when purchasing lamb. Safety and quality were also relatively important with food safety clearly an important
consideration to consumers when buying meat. This is not surprising given the legacy of BSE and E-coli
outbreaks that were given a lot of publicity in the press in the past. The origin attribute was however rated as
of the lowest importance.
Traceability can be meaningful to consumers but primarily in an indirect manner as the importance of
traceability to consumers is in terms of its benefits such as safety and quality, in relation to aspects that they
think are important regarding food in general. In the area for meat there is a need for fast and reliable systems
to enable traceability along the full supply chain to provide safe and high quality food for the consumer as the
end user with respect to origin.