Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Identification of the role of benefits and risks of SAFE ICE processes in overall consumer acceptability of real foods

Consumer attitudes towards low temperature high pressure processing of food were investigated through consumer survey in Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Finland (n = 936). Generally attitudes towards high pressure processing were neutral, even thought the term was unfamiliar for consumers. When given some information about pressure freezing technology, consumers considered it as appropriate, especially if it has advantageous consequences to the product. Conjoint analysis also indicated that when a new technology is applied technology as such is not very important for consumers, but it is important that the price does not go up and the use of technology has environmental benefits.

Consumer acceptance is one of the key issues when products processed by a novel method are introduced to the market. Typically, consumers are not focused on processing method itself but rather to the benefits and risks associated with it. Benefits of a new method can be related to improved acceptability and convenience of new product. These benefits may even overcome negative consequences, like higher price. However, perceived risks may become barriers against use of a new product.

To food manufacturing technological development enables various new processes which improve the quality of products in different ways. New products with better sensory and nutritional quality are available for consumers. When consumers purchase familiar products sensory quality is one of the main factors influencing purchase decision. Various extrinsic factors, such as contextual, cognitive, social, cultural and attitudinal variables related to both the product and the consumer of it, should be noted as factor influencing consumers' choices when products processed by new technologies are considered, and concerns of the nature of the processing method have to be taken to account. Also external quality of the product, like label, brand, price and other information, has an influence on product perception (Deliza et al., 2003).

A new product needs to be accepted by consumers to be successful in the market. Novelty causes suspiciousness and consumers are often concerned about new processing technologies. Especially for women perceived unsafely of new foods influence attitudes towards the product. Consumers' evaluations of new technologies are often ambiguous. From the consumer's viewpoint new processing technologies are causing risks which are unobservable, unknown and out of their own control. Consumers by nature try to avoid risks, but some degree of risk may be tolerated if also benefits are gained. This is why benefits for consumers weigh heavily to the acceptance of new processing technologies. For example, acceptance of biotechnology has been found to depend on consumers perceiving some personal or societal benefit in it. To make new technologies more appropriate to consumers, technological innovations should be directed towards those outcomes, which consumers want, for example reduced environmental impacts, desirable quality or reduced price in food products.

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