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Abstract

Consumers’ growing concerns with regard to the food supply chain continue to influence their perceptions of emerging novel food processes. The main objective of this study was to explore consumers’ perceptions and potential purchase motivations for chilled ready meals produced using high pressure processing. In-depth one-to-one soft laddering interviews were conducted in-home with 40 purchasers of chilled ready meals, aged between 18 and 44 years, living in Dublin City and County, Ireland. The in-depth discussions explored a range of issues concerning consumers’ acceptance of high pressure processing, as well as their preferences for high pressure processed chilled ready meal concepts. The results of the study showed that consumers were generally receptive towards high pressure processing of chilled ready meals. Subsequent discussions revealed where consumer acceptance issues could potentially arise concerning the application of high pressure processing to chilled ready meals. The soft laddering technique revealed distinct differences between consumer groups across consumption patterns and life stages with regard to their purchase preferences and potential purchase motivations. The insights generated from this research can assist companies design consumer-relevant communication strategies, which effectively differentiate high pressure processed chilled ready meal from incumbent products.

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