Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



U.S. consumption of beef has declined during the last three decades. Consumer preferences have shifted toward products that are considered healthy, environmentally friendly and obtained through sustainable production methods. Because of the characteristics of grass-fed beef production, consumers are becoming more interested in grass-fed beef products than conventional beef products. A choice-based experiment was used to assess consumer’s preferences for grass-fed beef. A national online survey was conducted in May 2012 and the information from 4000 respondents was collected from the entire U.S. The respondents were divided in two groups of similar size: grass-fed beef eaters, comprised by the respondents who had eaten grass-fed beef in the last year and 2000 respondents from the general population. The participants were asked to evaluate three sets of three hypothetical beef steaks. Each set also included the “no purchase” option. In addition to the choice experiment, information regarding the consumers’ lifestyle, belief and attitudes towards grass-fed beef along with their demographic and socioeconomic information was requested. The attributes that consumers evaluated for the grass-fed beef choice experiment included the type of production (grass-fed or grain-fed beef) with USDA certification, source grade and price. Price was the most important attribute for consumers’ choice, followed by the type of production. The results revealed that on average, grass-fed beef with USDA certification was preferred over grain-fed beef. Consumers valued steaks produced in the U.S. more than imported. The interactions between the consumers’ demographic characteristics and the product attributes revealed that female consumers prefer grass-fed beef with USDA certification and were willing to pay more for this product. The USDA certification was valued by the consumer and certified grass-fed beef products were preferred over grass-fed beef products without certification. The analysis also showed that sustainability, novelty and convenience are consumer’s attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that affect their choice for grass-fed beef products. The nutrition dimension, which accounts for the consumer’s interest in food composition and weight control, did not affect his choice for beef products.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Harrison, R. Wes