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Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 37355

Special Issue Editors

Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group, Wageningen University & Research, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: Consumer Behavior; Consumer Food Choices; Consumer Food Preferences for Quality Labels; Food Marketing; Healthy and Sustainability Food Consumption; Experimental Methods; Food policy; Incorporation of Biometric Data (e.g. eye-tracking and other biosensors) in consumer choice studies
Dr. Vincenzina Caputo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, 446 W. Circle, Dr., Rm 213E Morrill Hall of Agriculture, East Lansing Michigan, 48824, United States
Interests: Consumer Food Choice Behavior; Consumer Food Preferences; Consumer Demand; Choice Modeling; Experimental Economics; Food Marketing; Food Policy; Food Systems; Survey Designs
Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Via Cantarane 24, 37129 Verona, Italy
Interests: Experimental Methods; Behavioral Economics; Psychology and Marketing; Choice Experiment; Discrete Choice Modeling; Food Marketing; Consumer Food Choice behavior; Consumer WTP Formation; Food products attributes; Food systems, Food Policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A variety of high quality food products have specific credence quality attributes such as, production methods, sustainability aspects, geographic location, and origin. These products are considered to be “credence attributes” since consumers cannot evaluate them either before or after purchase. Hence, food quality labels play a critical role in signaling these quality features to consumers. Fernqvist and Ekelund (2014) identified credence categories including health-, production-, ethics-, and origin-related credence. Credence quality labels indicate for example the sustainability character, or the geographical indications or the traditional character, or the nutritional content of a food product. Examples of credence quality labels are environmental and ethical sustainability labels (e.g., organic, sustainable aquaculture and fisheries, animal welfare, fair trade, carbon footprint, local, food miles), symbols and origin labels (country of origin, Protected Designation of Origin, PDO and Protected Geographical Indication, PGI) and labels related to traditional production (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed, TSG), and nutrition- and health-related claims.

Quality labelling consist of cues used by consumers to access food quality and assist consumers in making informed food choices while retaining freedom of choice, and reducing search costs. For food producers, quality labelling is one of the major instruments to differentiate their products by informing consumers about credence quality attributes. Quality labels thus provide opportunities to strengthen their competitiveness by offering a way to differentiate and communicate the nature of their products in the marketplace. Quality labelling will be traded-off against other informational cues on the package, as well as price when consumers make food choices. This special issue is focused on the quality labels, price and how it relates to food choice.

Dr. Ellen Van Loo
Dr. Vincenzina Caputo
Dr. Claudia Bazzani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • consumer food choice behavior
  • food quality labeling
  • preferences
  • willingness to pay
  • credence attributes
  • food marketing
  • consumer economics

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 511 KiB  
Article
Consumer Preferences for Private Label Brand vs. National Brand Organic Juice and Eggs: A Latent Class Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7028; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137028 - 23 Jun 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2819
Abstract
Many retailers have expanded and diversified their private label food product assortment by offering premium-quality private label food products such as organic products. With price being identified as the major barrier for organic food purchases, private label organic food products could be a [...] Read more.
Many retailers have expanded and diversified their private label food product assortment by offering premium-quality private label food products such as organic products. With price being identified as the major barrier for organic food purchases, private label organic food products could be a suitable and more affordable alternative for many consumers. While numerous studies have examined consumer preferences for organic food, very few organic food studies have incorporated the concept of private labels. This study addresses this research gap by studying consumer preferences and willingness to pay for national brand and private label organic food using a latent class model. Specifically, this study analyzes consumer preferences for organic eggs and orange juice and the effect of national branding versus private label. Findings show heterogeneity in consumer preferences for production method and brand, with three consumer segments being identified based on their preferences for both juice and eggs. For eggs, about half of the consumers prefer private label and organic production, whereas one-quarter clearly prefers organic, and another quarter is indifferent about the brand and the organic production. For orange juice, the majority (75%) prefer the national brand. In addition, one-quarter of the consumers prefers organic juice, and about one-third values both organic and the national brand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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17 pages, 305 KiB  
Article
Do Fair Trade Labels Bias Consumers’ Perceptions of Food Products? A Comparison between a Central Location Test and Home-Use Test
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1384; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031384 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3253
Abstract
Consumers are paying more and more attention to ethical and social criteria during grocery shopping. As a result, Fair Trade products which are certified to address global supply chain issues (e.g., forced labor, working conditions, fair pay), are gaining popularity. However, it is [...] Read more.
Consumers are paying more and more attention to ethical and social criteria during grocery shopping. As a result, Fair Trade products which are certified to address global supply chain issues (e.g., forced labor, working conditions, fair pay), are gaining popularity. However, it is unclear to which extent Fair Trade labels might influence how consumers perceive such labelled food products. The aim of this research was to examine the potential effect of Fair Trade labels on several measurements (overall liking, sensory profiling, emotions, willingness-to-pay and kCal estimations). Furthermore, tests were carried out at a sensory lab and at home to examine if the evaluation context might impact the label effect. In total, 179 consumers participated in this study of which 90 carried out the test in the sensory test facilities (central location test—CLT) and 89 at home (home-use-test—HUT). Participants evaluated three pairs of food products (nuts, juice and chocolate) of which one was labelled as conventional and the other one as Fair Trade. However, participants were each time evaluating the same Fair Trade product. Results showed that the Fair Trade label increased the overall liking. For the juice and chocolate, a higher willingness-to-pay was found when the product was labelled as ‘Fair Trade’ while no effect of the label was established for the nuts. The Fair Trade label did not affect the kcal estimation of the samples. The Fair Trade label had a rather limited influence on the sensory and emotional profiling of the food products. Furthermore, the results of the CLT and HUT were highly similar indicating that the evaluation context has little impact on the labelling effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
18 pages, 581 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Food Safety Perceptions—A Choice-Based Willingness to Pay Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7270; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187270 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 6369
Abstract
As the COVID-19 pandemic brings about sudden change in societies across the globe and likely heralds the start of a recession, we examine the pandemic’s impact on consumer food safety perceptions. Due to its origin, COVID-19, likely spurring from an animal-to-human transmission in [...] Read more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic brings about sudden change in societies across the globe and likely heralds the start of a recession, we examine the pandemic’s impact on consumer food safety perceptions. Due to its origin, COVID-19, likely spurring from an animal-to-human transmission in the context of a wet market, may impact consumer food perceptions in similar ways to the avian flu (H5N1) and the swine flu (H1N1). We examine this effect by studying preferences for beef meat in a consumer survey in the United States (n = 999) using a choice-based experiment. We compare our findings to Lim et al. (2014), who elicited consumer beef willingness to pay (WTP). Additionally, we investigate the impact of the looming recession by analyzing several attributes and their effect on consumer preferences. Our findings suggest that food safety concerns have become more important. As a result, production standards and the country of origin have lost importance. Additionally, we show that the socioeconomic impact for some respondents impacts their shopping preferences. Finally, we outline potential areas for future research as well as managerial implications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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26 pages, 801 KiB  
Article
No Palm Oil or Certified Sustainable Palm Oil? Heterogeneous Consumer Preferences and the Role of Information
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7257; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187257 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5486
Abstract
Public concerns about the adverse effects of palm oil production and consumption have contributed both to the development of certification standards for sustainable palm oil and to the promotion of palm-oil-free products. While research on consumer preferences for palm oil is growing, potential [...] Read more.
Public concerns about the adverse effects of palm oil production and consumption have contributed both to the development of certification standards for sustainable palm oil and to the promotion of palm-oil-free products. While research on consumer preferences for palm oil is growing, potential trade-offs between these two options—products containing certified palm oil versus palm-oil-free products—are still largely unexplored. Focusing on this research gap, a discrete choice experiment involving chocolate cookies was implemented as part of a web survey among consumers in Germany. Results indicate that consumers on average prefer palm-oil-free cookies, although a latent class analysis identifies several consumer segments that differ in terms of preferences, attitudes, and characteristics. Many respondents are highly price-sensitive. After the provision of additional information, stated preferences for certified palm oil increase, but four out of five consumer segments still prefer palm-oil-free products. Prevailing health concerns and a potential lack of trust in certification might explain this choice behavior. As alternatives to palm oil are not necessarily more sustainable, initiatives supporting the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil should be further strengthened. Targeted information campaigns might be a suitable instrument to raise awareness and increase knowledge about palm oil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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18 pages, 627 KiB  
Article
Are Consumers Willing to Pay a Premium for Pure Rice Noodles? A Study of Discrete Choice Experiments in Taiwan
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6144; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156144 - 30 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2257
Abstract
Most consumers in Taiwan have never eaten pure rice noodles (PRNs) and some may mistakenly treat corn starch-based rice noodles as PRNs. This study examines consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for PRNs using discrete choice (DC) experiments with a blind tasting test to [...] Read more.
Most consumers in Taiwan have never eaten pure rice noodles (PRNs) and some may mistakenly treat corn starch-based rice noodles as PRNs. This study examines consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for PRNs using discrete choice (DC) experiments with a blind tasting test to understand consumers’ ability to identify PRNs with varying rice content on the basis of their appearance and taste. Collecting data from the Taipei metropolitan area, our DC experimental results of both pre- and post-experiment conditions show that Taiwanese consumers do prefer PRNs and their WTP for PRNs was strengthened. A latent class model highlights that attribute preferences tend to differ by group and thus rice content ratios should be properly labeled so that consumers can make a better choice according to their preferences. Our WTP estimates also imply that offering tasting trials to consumers is an effective marketing strategy to encourage potential purchases of PRNs for the rice noodle industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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15 pages, 523 KiB  
Article
Vietnamese Consumers’ Preferences for Functional Milk Powder Attributes: A Segmentation-Based Conjoint Study with Educated Consumers
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5258; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135258 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4561
Abstract
This paper investigated Vietnamese consumers’ preferences for functional milk powder products to determine if there were differences in market segments. A Qualtrics survey and a 1000minds choice-based conjoint survey were completed by 272 participants, predominantly 18-30-year-old males with high education levels and above [...] Read more.
This paper investigated Vietnamese consumers’ preferences for functional milk powder products to determine if there were differences in market segments. A Qualtrics survey and a 1000minds choice-based conjoint survey were completed by 272 participants, predominantly 18-30-year-old males with high education levels and above average incomes. Firstly, general perceptions of the use of functional foods to maintain health were determined, with results revealing that participants believed in the benefits the foods claim to provide. Secondly, participants’ tradeoffs for specific extrinsic functional milk powder attributes were determined by examining the relative importance they placed on a range of attributes. Participants prioritized a quality stamp attribute and preferred that this was obtained from an international certification body. Finally, a two-step cluster analysis and multinomial logistic regression was used to profile the participants and analyze relationships between socio-demographic data and the four resulting segments (i.e., Food Safety Concerned, Price Sensitive, Premium Product Focused, and Nutrition Focused). The largest of these segments was Food Safety Concerned (46.3%) with males significantly less likely than females to be in this segment. Given the limited literature on Vietnamese consumers’ decision-making processes, this study is an important contribution to this topic, as well as providing information about market opportunities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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23 pages, 1601 KiB  
Article
Food Heritage Makes a Difference: The Importance of Cultural Knowledge for Improving Education for Sustainable Food Choices
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1509; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041509 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 9345
Abstract
This paper presents findings from a study carried out as part of BigPicnic, a European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project. BigPicnic brought together members of the public, scientists, policy-makers and industry representatives to develop exhibitions and science cafés. Across 12 European and one Ugandan [...] Read more.
This paper presents findings from a study carried out as part of BigPicnic, a European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project. BigPicnic brought together members of the public, scientists, policy-makers and industry representatives to develop exhibitions and science cafés. Across 12 European and one Ugandan botanic gardens participating in the study, we surveyed 1189 respondents on factors and motives affecting their food choices. The study highlights the importance that cultural knowledge holds for understanding food choices and consumer preferences. The findings of this study are discussed in the wider context of food security issues related to sustainable food choice, and the role of food as a form of cultural heritage. Specifically, the findings underline the importance of the impact of food preferences and choices on achieving sustainability, but also indicate that heritage is a key parameter that has to be more explicitly considered in definitions of food security and relevant policies on a European and global level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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16 pages, 446 KiB  
Article
Public and Private Standards in Crop Production: Their Role in Ensuring Safety and Sustainability
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 606; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020606 - 14 Jan 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2219
Abstract
From the comparison of regulations and/or standards for the organic, conventional and/or integrated citrus production method and a voluntary certification, it emerges that farms certified with voluntary non-regulated certification systems, such as the IFA FV GLOBALG.A.P, are obliged to take into account the [...] Read more.
From the comparison of regulations and/or standards for the organic, conventional and/or integrated citrus production method and a voluntary certification, it emerges that farms certified with voluntary non-regulated certification systems, such as the IFA FV GLOBALG.A.P, are obliged to take into account the highest number of aspects, reported in a more complete register, than the organic ones. Moreover, this is also supported by a continuous-time planned process of revision and updating of the applicable versions of the standard. The environmental impact of the food production, the safety aspects of food products, as well as the health, ethics, and safety aspects of workers, are largely considered and inspected in the GLOBALG.A.P., while the organic system, despite the IFOAM suggestions and indications, is only considered partially. This means that, from a practical point of view, the organic product can be considered “clean and safe”, but not more environmentally friendly than the GLOBALG.A.P. products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Quality, Price and Consumer Choices)
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