A survey carried out in December 2021 found that 9 out of 10 New Zealanders are meat eaters however almost half of New Zealanders have reduced their meat consumption in response to issues such as cost and health.
AgResearch Senior Meat Scientist Dr Cameron Craigie told REX host Dominic George it's important and interesting to understand the thought process behind meat consumers.
"It's always good to go out and see what consumers are thinking about when they are purchasing meat products and understanding what's most important to them.
"That matters for us as scientists to help shape the direction of the research we are doing but also is of interest to the industry who are looking to address consumer needs and make products better."
With 93% of kiwis still identifying themselves as omnivores a consistent figure in surveys over the past few years, Dr Craigie doesn't expect those numbers to decrease significantly any time soon.
He did note that surveyed consumers often have an idealistic view of themselves when completing a survey compared to when they are actually at the supermarket purchasing the actual, physical products.
Chicken was the main type of meat consumed regularly in roughly 33% of meals within an average week followed by beef, fish, pork, lamb and processed meat, the order of which Dr Craigie was not particularly surprised by.
"We've gone from this point where chicken was a special occasion dish and beef and lamb and red meats were the every day, it's kind of flipped.
"Now we're seeing the red meat products perhaps more as a special occasion or a BBQ and the chicken is the every day."
While plant-based meat alternatives have been available for a number of years, Dr Craigie told George their study shows most people tend to eat plant-based alternatives in addition to regular meat not as a replacement for it.
"It's not really an either-or discussion, it's a both.
"What we've seen in this study is that people are still eating meat, so they are perhaps substituting a few things but it's not because they are stopping eating meat altogether it's just more variety or probably a cost-driven thing.
"70% of people had heard of meat alternatives or plant products, of those nearly 18% would actually try them."
He also talked about the health benefits of consuming meat products, sustainability within the meat farming industry and how an increase in grocery and food items since the survey was carried out could influence this data.