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Consumer Perception for Horticultural Products and Related Agricultural Practices

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Title: Consumer Perception for Horticultural Products and Related Agricultural Practices
Author: Wu, Jenny Muchen
Department: Department of Food Science
Program: Food Science
Advisor: Duizer, LisaLesschaeve, Isabelle
Abstract: In recent years, growing interest towards foods produced from alternative agricultural practices have been seen among consumers. This thesis is an investigation of consumer understanding and attitudes towards information regarding sustainable, organic and local foods and agricultural practices and how such information could affect consumer food product expectation and sensory acceptability. Using internet questionnaires constructed based on common definitions and popular beliefs, 172 primary grocery shoppers were surveyed regarding their perception concerning information related to these alternative agricultural practices and foods. Results obtained from statistical analyses revealed the existence of various dimensions concerning the understanding and attitudes towards these concepts. Segmentations based on their understanding and attitudes towards these concepts were also found within the sampled population. Furthermore, by utilizing the theory of assimilation and contrast, a three-part sensory study was conducted, with 49 consumers from the Niagara Peninsula, to examine the impact of information regarding production methods (organic vs. conventional) and product origins (local vs. imported) on consumer expectation and acceptability of yellow peaches. Despite of some peach samples being under-ripe, a significant positive labeling effect has been observed in hedonic rating and perceived intensity of sensory characteristics when the joint organic and local label was presented. A similar labeling effect, however, was not observed in monetary valuation of willingness to pay.
Description: New Directions Research Program
Date: 2012-01
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