Effect of information on Chinese consumers’ perceptions and purchase intention for beverages processed by High Pressure Processing, Pulsed-Electric Field and Heat Treatment
Lee, Pui; Lusk, Karen; Mirosa, Miranda; Oey, Indrawati
High Pressure Processing (HPP) and Pulsed-Electric Field (PEF) are non-thermal technologies that add value to foods by improving safety through lowering microbial loads in addition to improving the sensory properties such as color, flavor, and texture. While Heat Treatment (HT) is more widely accepted by consumers, it is a more destructive process compared to HPP and PEF. Little is known about how Chinese consumers perceive non-thermal technologies like HPP and PEF. This research aimed to understand Chinese consumer’s perceptions of non-thermal processing technologies and ways to mitigate negative perceptions. Specifically, this research sought to investigate: (a) consumers’ general knowledge of food processing technologies; (b) the effect of information on consumers’ perceptions of HT, HPP and PEF and how these perceptions influence decisions for their treated beverages; and (c) consumers’ willing-ness to pay for products processed using these technologies. Six focus groups were conducted in Hangzhou, China. When participants were provided limited and detailed technology information, six dominant consumer perceptions towards HT, HPP, and PEF emerged. Those perceptions were: (1) consumer association with the given technology, (2) trust towards the technology, (3) health, (4) food, (5) taste and quality, and (6) price. When limited information was provided, consumers were skeptical of HPP and PEF. However, the provision of detailed technology information changed participants’ attitudes towards HPP and PEF technologies and increased their stated purchase intentions for the treated products. Participants were also found to place less emphasis on the price for HPP and PEF treated beverages when detailed technology information was provided. Chinese consumers were interested in having fewer additives in their foods. Non-thermally processed foods offer this benefit. Given the change in attitudes after receiving detailed information, HPP and PEF processing technologies have potential to be widely accepted by Chinese consumers. However, to effectively promote these technologies, consumer education is needed to increase awareness of the advantages these technologies have for foods. Practical communication strategies are provided to help food manufacturers inform Chinese consumers about the benefits of these technologies.
Rights Statement: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.08.006
Keywords: Focus group; China; heat treatment; high pressure processing; Pulsed-Electric Field; Purchase intention
Research Type: Journal Article