Pie eaters often complain about the lack of meat inside their pastry encrusted cuisine. But when someone tucks into their steak pie or Melton Mowbray, how much meat should they actually expect to find in it? And how does this compare to the perception pie eaters have about how much is attributed purely to meat?

The Food Standards Agency requires that no less than 12% of a meat pie be attributed to the actual meat. So, with this in mind we went ahead and asked more than 900 meat-eating adults from across Great Britain what they thought the minimum allowable meat content was for a meat pie.

Only one in thirteen meat-eating adults came close to guessing the correct requirement for a meat pie, significantly lower than what would have been achieved if respondents had randomly guessed at a figure between 1 and 100.

While guestimates ranged from as little as 1 percent and as high as 100 percent, the 45-55% range stood out as the most common expectation of how much meat needs to be in a meat pie. Comprising of a fifth of those sampled, this misconception (that around half of a meat pie is actually meat) stands out as significant because it is twice the proportion than would have been obtained if respondents had randomly guessed at a percentage; furthermore, it was the only percentage range to record any statistically significant response rate different from that of random chance.

Those who are of the belief that a meat pie should have no less than half its content being meat were more likely to be from the highest social-economic groups or aged between 35 and 54 years old.

In fact, looking at the meat content of pies available in the major supermarkets brings to mind the age-old-adage of “you get what you pay for”; since mean content can range from as low as 12% in value range pies, through to 36% in regular quality pies, up to as high as 50% in the more premium pies on offer.

Therefore, next time you tuck into a meat pie and find it lacking, consider how much you've actually paid for it before you start complaining.

This blog is a prelude to a freely available report into the Great British public's perceptions on the meat content of various meat products. To ensure you are e-mailed a copy of the report (when it becomes available) please contact Paul Murray