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QUAFETY project shows consumer preferences toward fresh-cut produce

The European Project QUAFETY aims at providing new technologies and disciplines to the fresh-cut processing industry together with the assessment of the consumer acceptability of those products with novel attributes. Scientists at University of Foggia (Italy), partner in the project, have evaluated European consumers’ attitude towards the innovative attributes of fresh-cut products.

The full study will be presented at WiCaNem Conference (www.wicanem.wur.nl) on next June 2014 in Capri (Naples, Italy).

This research aims at increasing the knowledge about consumer perception related to fresh-cut Fruit &Vegetables, evaluating the consumer stated choices of four European countries (Greece, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom) different for eating cultures, habits and lifestyles. Especially, the main objectives are 1) determining consumer perception towards the combination of attributes preferred by consumers with a choice model; 2) determining the differences in consumer preferences among the different countries. In addition, willingness to pay will be estimated for fresh-cut F&V related to fresh products. The attributes considered in this analysis are price, packaging, stabilization-process and safety indicators.

The survey was conducted with a total of 1,462 interviews across some EU countries. More specifically about 500 consumers were interviewed in Italy, about 250 in Spain, about 250 in Greece and about 500 in UK. Consumers were selected randomly at the exit of the shopping mall across the entire area of the countries (Italy, Greece) or while shopping online (Spain, UK).

The survey shows that in the UK almost all consumers (97%) buy and consume the ready-to-eat products, followed by Spain and Italy with respectively 88.4% and 84%, while in Greece only 70% of interviewed sample declared to purchase fresh-cut products.

On the total of fruit and vegetables purchased, the fresh-cut products represent 37.2% for UK consumers, 23.1% for Spanish consumers, 16.7% for Greek consumers and 23.7% for Italian ones. This result confirms that in UK there is a greater propensity to consume the ready-to-eat products, followed by Italy and Spain. Another important information concerns the percentage of fresh-cut salads on the total of fresh-cut produce purchased that is 12.3% in Spain, 8.8% in Greece, 13.9% in UK and 20.6% in Italy.

Concerning the average food expenditure for fresh-cut fruit and vegetables it is possible to see similarities among the four analyzed countries. In Italy, consumers declared to spend 18.2% of total food expenditure for fruit and 18.2% for vegetables and salads; in UK consumers declared to spend respectively for fruit and vegetables 23.2% and 23.9%; in Spain the percentage for the two products is 24.5% and 22.7%, while in Greece the two indicators are 22.5% for the fruit and 22.8% for the vegetables.

The scientists conclude that when considering the choice attributes, a large share of consumers, independently to their nationality, show the same direction of acceptability that is related to the convenience and the safety of the product. Shelf life has not been the most considered attribute. This result could disappoint most of the applied science researchers because microbiological improvements, packaging enhancements aim mostly at prolonging products shelf life.

In general, results have highlighted that not all innovations impact positively consumers preferences. Thus, further work needs to be carried out in order to evaluate those innovations cost-wise and derive profitability implications for the industry.

Source: Stasi A., Baselice A., Nardone G., ‘Consumers’ preferences towards innovative attributes of fresh-cut salads: a cross-European survey’. Università di Foggia, Italy.

Publication date: 4/28/2014
Author: Emanuela Fontana
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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