Understanding consumer food preferences can provide agribusinesses with a competitive advantage through meeting consumers’ needs. Consumers’ preferences for food attributes have been extensively examined, focusing on specific aspects of attributes with specific food products. It is less clear how consumers evaluate the relative importance of the key food attributes in general. Applying the commonly adopted classification of food attributes into endogenous attributes (i.e., safety and freshness) and exogenous attributes (i.e., genetically modified (GM)-free and organic), the relative importance of these attributes for consumers was investigated. Furthermore, the heterogeneity of preferences was explored to identify distinct subgroups of consumers who may differ in valuing various food attributes. An online survey of 489 city dwellers in Australia revealed that the endogenous attributes were regarded as the most important in an order of safety and freshness. The exogenous attributes were rated as much less important. Three profiles with distinctive preferences for food attributes were identified: Not Fussy (12% of participants), Quality First (49%) and Choosy (39%). The findings suggest that consumers value the importance of various food attributes in a hierarchical order, and there is significant heterogeneity in consumers’ food preference. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of food policy and agribusiness decision-making.
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