Consumer Interest in a Natural Designation in Food Choice

In this study, the objective is to identify consumers’ willingness to consume different foods and the factors that could drive their food preferences. One hundred non-academic staff and students at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada participated in the study. Data were collected using focus group discussions, a survey questionnaire and a contingent valuation exercise. In the focus groups, participants discussed their preferences for traits in livestock and their products, their interest in natural foods and their perceptions regarding naturalness of food in relation to the different types of farming and technologies. In the survey questionnaire, participants were asked about their food consumption habits, perceptions, attitudes and preferences for different foods and technologies, generalized trust in people and trust in groups or institutions responsible for food in Canada among other issues. In the contingent valuation exercise, participants chose the price they were willing to pay for pork with different information about carnosine and omega-3 fatty acids. We find that there is heterogeneity in terms of consumers’ perceptions, attitudes and behaviour regarding natural foods. In summary, the cost of food, concerns about human and environmental impacts and trustworthiness of information on labels are some of the factors that influence participants’ decisions to buy pork labeled as coming from disease resilient or feed efficient pigs or pigs that are higher in a human or animal health component. Although some people accept genetic modification, other participants were concerned about its use in improving disease resilience, feed efficiency and human or animal health component in pigs. Although there are some variations in the results, generalized trust in people, food technology neophobia and concerns about product leanness, country of origin of the product, nutrition content, use of hormones and antibiotics in livestock production and environmental foot print of livestock production are associated with attitudes, perceptions and behaviour regarding natural foods. Participants are willing to pay more for pork chops with more information about carnosine and omega-3 fatty acids as compared to pork chops with less information. In comparison to carnosine, participants are willing to pay more for pork chops with information about omega-3 fatty acids. Generalized trust in people, trust in advocacy groups, natural product interest, frequency of purchasing products with a health claim and knowledge of sodium content in pork that have a health claim are associated with willingness to pay for enhanced carnosine and omega-3 fatty acids in pork.

Issue Date:
Sep 29 2017
Publication Type:

 Record created 2017-10-25, last modified 2017-10-25

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