New Zealand's red meat sector exports to the United States grew by 50% during the three months from July to September this year compared to a year earlier.
Approximately 100 people will be monitored in two ground-breaking clinical studies, led by researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland.
The projects will assess the physical effects on the body from eating the different foods for up to 10 weeks, as well as psychological elements, such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels.
The research team includes meat scientists, agricultural academics, dietitians, behavioural experts and social scientists.
Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of Meat Industry Association, is excited by the programme of research being undertaken.
She said much of the global research on the health, nutritional and environmental aspects of red meat was based on intensive grain-finished farming systems.
“However, New Zealand specialises in free-range livestock farming that is naturally pasture-raised, antibiotic-free and hormone-free,” Karapeeva said.
“We know there are myths and misinformation about the production and benefits of eating red meat, so we have turned to research to help bring balance to what consumers are hearing.
She said that consumers are making decisions around their diets based on ideologies.
“In part, this is a backlash against broken food systems, such as factory farming and ‘big food’. There is a growing consumer desire for better quality food produced from natural systems, which supports a strong future for ‘real’ red meat as produced in New Zealand,” Karapeeva said.
Meat Industry Association chief executive, Sirma Karapeeva says she is excited by the research.
Results from the two studies will provide baseline data about pasture-raised beef and lamb and its consumption in comparison to other foods.
A sustained clinical study will see members of 40 households on a managed flexitarian dietary regime over 10 weeks.
Participants will be monitored over the course of the study and changes in health status, behaviours and attitudes and perceptual well-being recorded.
The research is supported by Meat Industry Association Innovation (MIA Innovation) and jointly funded with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd, the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).