A perspective of the Portuguese consumer awareness, beliefs and preferences towards piglet castration methods and its implications on the meat quality
Pereira Pinto, R.
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Neutering male piglets by surgical procedures without anaesthesia, with analgesia and/or anaesthesia and, recently, immunological-chemical castration are practices to avoid unwanted or aggressive sexual behaviour, and to prevent the development of meat boar taint. This exploratory study aims to investigate Portuguese consumer’s awareness, beliefs and attitudes in issues like boar taint, piglet’s castration and pork meat quality, observing possible demographic trends. It is also intended to identify clusters of consumers with similar attitudes, crossing them with demographic data to verify the existence of patterns in Portugal related to these issues. To attain this objective, a consumer’s survey was performed through an online questionnaire open for 30 days. A total of 158 respondents completed the survey. Almost a half (46%) of respondents stated their unknowledge about boar taint. Surgical castration and its effects are topics with which older consumers with a rural background are more familiar with, while immunological-chemical castration is still unknown to most consumers: 65% of consumers said they were not aware of this method, and 75% did not know whether it is an effective method for eliminating boar taint. Hierarchical clustering followed by K-means analysis segmented consumers into three clusters characterized according to their opinions, mainly divided by ethical and chemical-free orientations and by a more conservative meat quality and flavour-oriented attitudes, generally independent of prevailing demographics. In general, there were no defined opinions about the subjects under study, due mainly to the lack of information or knowledge. Nevertheless, cluster classification revealed differences in consumer’s opinions, especially regarding the reasons for castration and the pain inflicted, about meat quality and the willingness to buy pork from entire males or to pay more for this type of product.