Date of this Version
To determine sensory preference and value of fresh beef steak differing in aging technique, strip steaks were evaluated by consumers in Denver (n = 132 consumers) and Chicago (n = 141 consumers). Wet-aged Choice strip loins were matched with dry-aged Choice strip loins, whereas wet-aged Prime strip loins were matched with dry-aged Prime strip loins. Dry-aged strip loins were commercially aged in air in a controlled environment for 30 d and vacuum-aged for 7 d during shipping and storage. Wet-aged strip loins were vacuum-packaged and aged for 37 d in a 1°C cooler. Pairs of strip loins were matched to similar Warner- Bratzler shear force values and marbling scores. Twelve sensory evaluation panels (of 12 scheduled panelists each) were conducted over a 3-d period in each city. Individual samples from a pair of steaks were evaluated by the panelists for sensory traits. Bids were placed on the samples after sensory traits were obtained utilizing a variation of the Vickery auction with silent, sealed bids. No significant differences for sensory traits of flavor, juiciness, tenderness, or overall acceptability were detected between wet-aged Choice samples and dry-aged Choice samples. Although wet-aged Choice samples were numerically superior for all sensory traits, consumers placed similar bid values (P = 0.12) on wet- and dry-aged Choice samples ($3.82 per 0.45 kg and $3.57 per 0.45 kg, respectively). Wet-aged Prime samples were rated more desirable (P < 0.001) for flavor, tenderness, and overall acceptability than dry-aged Prime samples. Wet-aged Prime samples were valued at $4.02 per 0.45 kg, whereas dry-aged Prime samples brought $3.58 per 0.45 kg (P = 0.008). Consumers (29.3%) who preferred the dry-aged Choice samples over the wet-aged Choice samples were willing to pay $1.99/0.45 kg more (P < 0.001) for dry-aged samples. The consumers who preferred the wet-aged Choice over the dry-aged Choice samples (39.2%) were willing to pay $1.77/0.45 kg more (P < 0.0001). Consumers who preferred wet-aged Prime over dry-aged Prime samples (45.8%) paid $1.92/0.45 kg more (P < 0.0001). Consumers who preferred dry-aged Prime samples (27.5%) were willing to pay $1.92/0.45 kg more than for the wet-aged Prime samples. Although more consumers preferred wet-aged samples, markets do exist for dry-aged beef, and consumers are willing to pay a premium for this product.