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Exploring the Possibility of a Food Waste Product and Consumer’s Overall Perceptions

Abstract

A consumer survey is carried out to establish which meat protein attributes were most important to consumers and would they purchase waste protein products.

This systematic literature review collects and summarizes research on consumer acceptance and preferences for functional meat waste protein products. It was found that female consumers show high acceptance for some functional meat waste products. Acceptance for functional meat products increases among consumers with higher diet/health related knowledge, as well as with aging.

General interest in health, food-neophobia and perceived self-efficacy seem also to contribute shaping the acceptance for functional meat protein products. Furthermore, products with “natural” matches between carriers and ingredients have the highest level of acceptance among consumers. Last, it was found that brand familiarity drives consumers with low interest in health to increase their acceptance and preference for functional meat products.

 Chapter 1 Introduction

1.     Introduction

In 2015 the World Health Organisation added processed meats and smoked meat products to the list of carcinogenic foods (Bouvard et al., 2015). Ireland itself has extensive and under-utilised natural resources that can be exploited to produce high value products such as new food and innovative food products (Walsh & Watson, 2013).

In the last decades consumer demand for health-enhancing food products, such as nutrition-modified (e.g. low-fat products or with fibre added) and functional foods, has grown rapidly. Consumer demand for health-enhancing foods has spurred in part because of socio-economic changes, such as the longer life expectancy, the rise of health care costs, the social costs of non-transmittable diseases, and the widespread desire for a better quality of life (Valls et al., 2013). A recent report estimates that the global market for foods with health-enhancing features amounted to (approximately) $168 billion in 2013, with an annual average growth rate of 8.5%, and it is forecasted to exceed $300 billion by 2020 (Research and Markets, 2014). Food companies, attracted by such market growth and high margins, have been investing in the development of new nutrition-modified and functional products (Khan, Grigor, Win, & Boland, 2014).

However, these market projections mask a high risk of product failure as 70 to 90 per cent of new health-enhancing products exit the market within the first two years from their launch (Hardy, 2010; Stein & Rodríguez-Cerezo, 2008). One of the likely reasons for such high failure rates is that product development is often driven by technical feasibility (Bleiel, 2010) disregarding consumers’ acceptance and preferences (Van Kleef, van Trijp, & Luning, 2005a, 2002). This approach may lead to a mismatch between consumers’ needs and the features of new nutrition-modified and functional food products introduced in the market (Van Kleef, van Trijp, Luning, & Jongen, 2002). Existing knowledge is fragmented, and the findings from studies conducted in different contexts appear difficult to reconcile. One likely reason for this difficulty may be that so far scholars have focused on only one or just a few aspects of consumer behaviour, thus failing to provide an integrated picture of the multiple elements affecting the acceptance and the preferences for these products (Starling, 2014). One approach used to gather relevant knowledge in fields where evidence is fragmented is the systematic review, which selects studies through a multi-step procedure (Littell & College, 2006), also allowing for an assessment of the studies’ quality (Littell, Corcoran, & Pillai, 2008). Only two systematic reviews on functional foods exists (Ozen et al., 2012, 2014). Ozen et al. (2012) systematically reviewed twenty-three worldwide studies on individual consumption of functional products belonging to different food categories. These authors concluded that it was not possible to clearly identify how gender, age, level of education and socio-economic characteristics influenced the consumption of functional foods.

The primary goal of this research is to investigate if, by focusing in one specific product category, meat products, it is possible to isolate common patterns in consumers’ acceptance and preferences for nutrition-modified and functional foods by means of a systematic review process and consumer research. The secondary goal is also to provide an integrated picture of the multiple elements affecting the acceptance and preferences for meat products. Gaining more insight on consumers’ preferences for a functional meat product may benefit both meat manufacturers and consumers, as it will be illustrated throughout the research. Furthermore, the results of this review, along with its limitations, will help identifying avenues for future research, as it will be illustrated in the final section of the research.

An initial inventory of relevant online databases was created. ScienceDirect and Google Scholar were identified as search engines from which to retrieve the studies to be included in the review. Since ScienceDirect only index’s title, abstract and keywords documents containing search terms and keywords in the main text cannot be retrieved during the search process from those web engines. Instead, Google Scholar can select larger amount of documents compared to the other two search engines, as it indexes the documents’ main text. Thus, by using them jointly the likelihood of retrieving articles related to the subject being investigated can be maximized (Ford, 2011). The search process was restricted to research papers published in English in peer reviewed journals from 2002 to 2017. The choice of this time span was motivated by the fact that functional products started to be introduced in the market approximately at the end of the last century (Sir_o et al., 2008) and by the time when the articles were collected (November 2016 until now). The selection process continued with three steps in which inclusion/exclusion criteria reduced the number of studies gradually, by means of structured queries developed using two sets of keywords. The first set of keywords included terms referring to the most frequently consumed nutrition-modified and functional meat products according to Sir_o (2008): “meat”, “red”, “protein”, “fat” and “animal”. The second set of keywords included the terms: “functional food”, “protein”, “pig”, “cow”, “low fat” and “low salt”, which refer to the health-related attributes most frequently attached to meat products (Playne, Bennett, & Smithers, 2003; Sir_o, 2008). Finally, the term “consumer” was added to the queries to identify only studies focusing on heath-enhancing dairy products and consumers.

Titles and abstracts of the papers were inspected, retaining only those focusing on issues related to consumer behaviour and functional foods. The remaining studies were further reduced by excluding studies that were duplicates, and which focused on the sensory profiles of these products without assessing aspects related to consumer behaviour.

1.1 Food Waste

There is over 1 million tonnes of food waste disposed of every year in Ireland. Around one third of this comes from the households in Ireland, meaning that at home each person throws out an estimated value of 80kg of food waste each year. When added up this equates to 300,000 tonnes of food from just the homes in Ireland alone. There are three main types of food waste disposed of: avoidable food waste includes foods such as; leftovers, gone off fruit and vegetables, passed its date perishables, etc. This is the key area where people can save more money and can be helped by just a little bit more awareness or education on how best to manage their food. Potentially avoidable food waste; like bread crusts, potato skins, etc. Unavoidable food waste; includes things like chicken bones, banana skins, peelings, etc.

The average Irish household throws out just under 1 tonne of rubbish each year. This is the weight of a small car. Currently only 50% is being recycled properly. Of all the waste which goes into landfills 40% is organic waste and 30% is different recyclable materials. The cost of food waste is roughly €1,000 being wasted in each household each year (Waste, 2015). There are an estimated 750,000 tonnes of organic waste produced each year by businesses throughout Ireland. Over 300,000 tonnes are produced by commercial businesses e.g. food retail, hotels, food wholesale, hospitals and restaurants etc. and over 400,000 tonnes are produced by the industrial food producing and processing sector. It must be identified where and why the food is being wasted and then come up with solutions to fix the matter. The Stop Food Waste Challenge sets Irish householders a target of reducing their food waste by 25% a year in the hope to become a more environmentally friendly Ireland. When you think about the whole food cycle globally, the environmental costs are huge, in Ireland alone 1 million tonnes is generated yearly. Food waste is the third largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions with 3.3 billion tonnes of COproduced annually. 1.4 billion hectares of land, which is equivalent to 28% of the world’s agricultural area is then lost or wasted. The economic losses associated with food, excluding seafood, are estimated to be €550 billion a year.

In Europe, a total of 100 million tonnes of food is wasted per year. In the United States, 40% of food produced is also wasted. These figures are even more shocking given the fact that nearly one billion people are starving in the world. Out of all the food produced on farmlands 28% of it is wasted. As a result, wasted food accounts for 6-10% of greenhouse gases globally.

The main type of food wasted in any household is fruit and vegetables. Foods grown and produced by farmers; with the intent to sell to supermarkets and provide food for families sometimes are not even accepted by the supermarket. If the food products do not meet a certain criteria, such as size or colour, laid down by the supermarket then they are not accepted and in turn wasted. Another issue with regard to food waste is poor consumer choices when purchasing food. The high level of income in wealthier parts of the world means that people can afford to waste food and it to be of no significance to their disposable income (Hepker, C., 2014).

“Climate change will contribute to increasing global food prices within a range of 3-84% by 2050, posing a serious threat to food production and security. Currently, over 800 million people are suffering from severe malnutrition worldwide and about 36 million die from lack of food. Successfully dealing with the issue of food access is therefore the great challenge for the coming years.” (Nink, E., 2015). Food waste is immoral for both humans and the environment. The world is looking likely that it may not be capable to feed itself by the year 2050 if it doesn’t increase food productivity and prevent food waste. A report, from the Global Harvest initiative says that “with a world population expected to be at least 9 billion people minimum in 2050, the demand for food, feed, fibre and fuel will likely outpace food production if the current rate of output remains the same” (Food Tank, 2014). The domino effect of reducing food waste will in turn have an effect on preventing world hunger.

1.2 World Hunger

Hunger is a term which has three meanings according the Oxford English Dictionary:

  • The uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite.
    Also the exhausted condition caused by want of food.
  • The want or scarcity of food in a country.
  • A strong desire or craving.

World hunger refers to the second definition, collected to world level. The medical term used frequently is malnutrition or both undernutrition or over nutrition. Over nutrition is now as common occurring as undernutrition. Undernutrition refers to the effects of people not having enough food. Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is a lack of calories and protein (Worldhunger.org, 2015). Food is converted to energy by humans and the energy contained is known as calories. Protein is essential for many important bodily functions including the provision of essential amino acids and the development and maintenance of muscles. PEM is the most lethal form of malnutrition and is the type of malnutrition discussed when world hunger is mentioned. It leads to growth failure, such as marasmus or kwashiorkor. Rapid weight loss can then occur in death. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, made estimations that 795 million people of the current 7.3 billion people in the world, are suffering from chronic undernourishment between 2014 and 2016.  There are currently 11 million people undernourished in developed countries. Yet the world currently produces enough food to feed everyone (WHES, 2015).

The world’s population, now five thousand three hundred billion, is increasing by approximately 250,000 people every day. It is estimated that one thousand million people will be born during this decade. Over the next decade, the population of the first and second world countries will grow by 56 million, while the number of people living in the remaining developing countries will expand to over 900 million. The biggest increases will happen in the poorest countries (FAO.org, 2015).

Innovative research methods that have been discussed are:

  • Sustainable food production systems: including growing, harvesting, processing, marketing, disposing of food, etc. that is sustainable over time and resilient after disasters or crises.
  • Novel ways of feeding the expected nine billion: Thinking of innovative methods to feed a growing world population.
  • Agricultural production for renewable resources: Trying to recycle waste produced from farming and raising livestock for the aid in renewable resources, such as fertilizer or compost.

There is no question that investment is needed in order to enhance technologies to improve production efficiency, reduce environmental destruction (including greenhouse gas emissions), and adjust to the current climate changes. In the United States, most of the waste generated is at the retail levels and consumer levels. In the developing countries, it differs entirely and comes from poor storage, transportation, and infrastructure.

If the global population reaches 9.1 billion by 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that “world food production will need to rise by 70%, and food production in the developing world will need to double. The projected 70% increase in food production will have to overcome rising energy fees, growing reduction of underground aquifers, the continuing loss of farmland to developments and constant urbanization, and increased drought and flooding resulting from climate change” (Phys.org, 2015).

In 2050 the population can be fed if changes are made, especially to stop concentrating on only manufacturing more agronomic produce. That has never resolved nor improved the current world hunger problem. Instead, increase the obtainability of land and food by controlling and reducing biofuel production, reducing food waste at the dinner table, and aim to invest in the more important food producers around the world: the small-scale local and family farmers (Food Tank, 2014); in order to produce a more sustainable environment for the ever growing world.

1.3 Sustainability

The demand for particular food and drinks has transformed and buyers now wish for their food to be produced in a sustainable setting. For many the main deliberation is trying to address climate change first of all; for others it is water sustainability; for many more consumers it is about financial sustainability. The only difference between each of these is the priority that consumers place on the differing aspects of the word sustainability.

The growth potential of the Irish food and drink industry may be hindered by the problem with sustainability and the amassing environmental costs. In relation to the food processing sector, measures set in place by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) have led to significant operational costs and so sustainability in a wider scale needs to be addressed. The primary sources of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions are the burning of fossil fuels in processing, transportation and refrigeration. Agricultural sources of emissions include Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Methane (CH4).

The agricultural sector of Ireland is now legally required to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by at least 20% by the year 2020. This is an opportunity for Irelands Agricultural – Food Industry to use this challenge to implement policies to reduce costs and enable production growth at a sustainable level. If Food Ireland can address these issues, the Irish food industry has the chance to become a reliable global source of high quality and sustainable food and drink (Future in Food, 2016).

The environmental issue is a concern for sectors of society, most importantly to the business world. How businesses act and their impact on the environment can severely affect stakeholders view of the business. For example, the Irish dairy industry and Infant Nutrition sector have been able to recognise the issues regarding the environment and climate change and act accordingly to protect and improve the environment. These industries have excelled at raising environmental performance and standards using practical methods. The Irish Dairy Industries Association (IDIA) firmly believes both environmental protection and economic growth can mutually benefit each other in relation to sustainable industry development (FDII, 2016).

Food is of utmost importance in life. The foods we associate with are a key part of our cultural identity and have a key role in economics. People are becoming increasingly aware of the food they eat and the impact of food on their health; however what has been less realised is the impact on food production and consumption on worldwide resources. Just as it is with the vehicles we drive and energy in heating our homes, food production and consumption impacts severely on the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions, water and land resource consumption, pollution, depletion of phosphorous and the impact of chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides are just a few examples.

The current trends in food production and consumption are under analysis in relation to long – term sustainability. The EU Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR), which is an advisory committee of EU member states for the future of agriculture, released the following report:

“Many of today´s food production systems compromise the capacity of Earth to produce food in the future. Globally, and in many regions including Europe, food production is exceeding environmental limits or is close to doing so. Nitrogen synthesis exceeds the planetary boundary by factor of four and phosphorus use has reached the planetary boundary. Land use change and land degradation, and the dependence on fossil energy contribute about one fourth of greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture, including fisheries, is the single largest driver of biodiversity loss. Regionally, water extracted by irrigation exceeds the replenishment of the resource.”

The definition of a sustainable food system and what falls into the category of sustainability is under question. Sustainability refers to the use of resources at levels that do not exceed the capacity of the source to replace them. Sustainability in relation to food can include the supply of food, its health, safety, affordability, quality, strong industry rich with jobs and growth. Environmental sustainability must be considered in tandem, such as climate change, water and soil quality and biodiversity.

The Europe 2020 Strategy – A resource efficient Europe calls for an increase in resource efficiency, to: “find new ways to reduce inputs, minimise waste, improve management of resource stocks, change consumption patterns, optimise production processes, management and business methods, and improve logistics.”

The roadmap to a resource efficient Europe follows up on the above statement. It states that growing global demand is depleting the world’s natural resource base with significant levels in the food sector. There is a calling for: “incentives for healthier and more sustainable production and consumption of food and to halve the disposal of edible food waste in the EU by 2020.”

Economic, cultural and environmental factors influence the complex food system. It is important to understand these factors and their interaction to improve public policies. Some of the issues facing the food system are listed below:

Global Trends in Population and Affluence: World population is expected to increase to 8 billion by 2020 and 9 billion by 2050. The middle working class is expecting to grow in tandem with this, raising the demand for high quality and more varied diet which requires additional resources for production. However at the same time there is a large amount of the world who suffers from lack of food leading to starvation and malnourishment.

Food Prices, Volatility and Availability: The price of food has risen to record levels. The present time has been labelled by the FAO as a “New era of rising food prices and spreading hunger,” noting that “food supplies are tightening everywhere and land is becoming the most sought after commodity.

Changes in Diet: Less healthy diets have become more and more popular in recent decades with fast food and readymade meals becoming the norm for most people. European citizens consume “too much energy, too many calories, too much fat and sugar, and salt”.

Food Waste: Food waste in the EU is expected to rise to 126 million tonnes a year by 2020 from a level of 89 million tonnes in 2006.

Changes in the Supply Chain: In the past few decades, the food system has become a demand driven system which is more focused providing food at low prices, veering away from the old supply driven system. Bargaining power has increased in the retail sector leading to primary producers taking a subordinate economic role.

Fisheries: The European Environment Agency states that “most fish stocks of commercial importance in European waters i.e. around 75 % appear to be outside safe biological limits.”

Water: A total of 1.4 billion people live in locations where water levels are unable to meet environmental, agricultural and municipal needs.

Biodiversity Loss: A Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that the current global extinction rate is 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the natural background extinction rate (EC Europa EU, 2016).

It is clear that food waste, world hunger and overall sustainability issues are a major concern within the food sector and are finally being realised as problems on a global scale. Food innovation and new product development are also on the rise and the demand for new products, improved products and more eco-friendly processed and production are being watched more carefully. These areas of the ever expanding food sector can help to reduce other issues caused by the sector itself.

1.4 Fear of Food

Food neophobia is known nowadays as the unwillingness to eat, or the dodging of new foods. In contrast, ‘picky/fussy’ eaters are usually defined as people who ingest an insufficient assortment of foods, through the refusal of an extensive quantity of foods that are familiar (as well as unfamiliar) to them (Dovey et al 2010). Food neophobia in children has been associated with a low intake of fruit, vegetables, and protein based foods (Cooke et al 2007). Food neophobia causes begin most commonly with; genetics, personality traits – shy, fearful children or adults with the fear of the unknown, pressure to eat, parental practices/attitudes being passed on, feeding styles, social influences, taste preferences and environmental. Fussy eaters; many children go through phases of fussy eating, refusing certain foods or sometimes refusing to eat anything at all. This can be worrying for adults but is a normal part of growing up and usually is no cause for concern once the child is healthy and reaching their weight and height goals. The HSE suggests guidance to parents with regard to managing fussy eaters. Research demonstrates that it takes 10-15 times of offering a new food before an infant or toddler makes a decision. Make a new food the 1st food toddler tries. Eat it yourself, talk positively about it. Allow pre-schoolers to help choose and prepare new foods.

Food neophobia is the horror of consuming new or unaccustomed foods. Food neophobia is particularly common in young children and being seen increasingly in adults nowadays, with them rejecting or refusing to try new foods on the market. A lot of consumers at some point in life do experience food neophobia; however there are one group of consumers that are a lot more neophobic than others. Food neophobia does tend to naturally decrease as people age, but with the current market and it’s range of food products consumers are able to become more picky and un willing to try what’s new or what’s a novel food product nowadays.

What starts off as simple food preference can develop into neophobia. It is the responsibility of a parent to overcome their own neophobia and avoid passing down poor eating habits to their children by being open to trying different foods. It is the norm that when children are fed with foods that are high in sugar and salts, fast food and other types of readymade meals, that when they are offered healthier foods such as vegetables and fruits they refuse to eat them. Neophobia has closely related symptoms with anxiety such as; panic attacks, shortness of breath, high heart rate and dizziness. Neophobia is an issue that can be overcome with time; a person’s taste buds can change or develop making a person more open to try new foods. However sometimes this is not the case. Treatments are available such as cognitive – behavioural therapy and medication for more severe symptoms (All about Counselling, 2016).

The unwillingness to try these new foods will dampen the overall acceptability of these one of a kind products coming to market that can aid in shelf life and flavour enhancement etc. if more education is not given.

More and more consumers are paying attention to labels. In 2016, 66% of food shoppers looked for health claims that called out avoidance of nutritional negatives, and 65% sought claims that conveyed minimal processing, per the Food Marketing Institute’s 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends.

1.5 Education

1.6 Blood Proteins

Blood is made up of four components: Plasma, a pale yellow sticky liquid. It makes up 55% of the blood’s volume. The components of plasma are water 92%, dissolved protein 8%, glucose, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, urea, uric acid, CO2, hormones and antibodies. Next are red blood cells; which are made in the bone marrow and survive for around 4 months. Their cytoplasm is rich is haemoglobin, which O2 binds to. Followed by white blood cells which defend the body; they are made by the bone marrow and lymphatic tissue. Finally, platelets; which are tiny fragment pieces of large bone marrow cells. They specialise in blood clotting chemicals.

Blood protein can be made edible in a liquid, frozen and dried out form. When the blood protein is in a liquid or frozen form, the blood plasma remains in its original state and keeps its concentrated levels of plasma. The water, salt and protein properties of the plasma will vary in this state. Blood has three functions in the food industry: Water binding, fat emulsifying and colouring but could have many more uses.

Full blood is used in foods such as sausages and black pudding, also as a colour additive to paler meat products. Full blood is not often used in the food industry due to various legislations. Blood plasma is the form of blood used most often in the food industry. It will provide 1.7 times water binding for the product it is added to. With the plasma added, the product is 2.5 to 3 times better than without. To fully utilise the water binding ability, the plasma must be heated. As the temperature increases, the binding capability will increase. The fat emulsifying capacity of blood plasma is the same as most milk proteins. The nature of blood plasma allows it to replace meat on a 1.1 ratio in meat, e.g. sausages. An example of the 1.1 ratio means that 3kg of raw liquid plasma will replace 1kg of meat and 2kg of water. Haemoglobins main function is as a replacement for full blood in food such as sausage and black pudding. Haemoglobin is the element in meat that gives it its red colour in its raw state, turning brown/ black when the meat is heated. Haem iron mainly comes in a powdered form given to fertile women and animals and used by pharmaceutical companies.

The first step of the removal of blood is pre inspection.  This ensures the wellness of the animal and rules out the good and bad blood. The separation process begins upon removal of the blood. This separation is of blood plasma and haemoglobin. The temperature of the blood is irrelevant; however after separation the blood must be warmed. There is a bacterium content of 60 – 80% in haemoglobin. Blood plasma has a water content of 90%. The blood plasma must be preserved. This can be done by spray drying, addition of chemicals or freezing. Freezing is the most common method. If frozen at -18oC, it can remain frozen for one year without deteriorating.

Environmental issues: Slaughterhouses are situated next to or near rivers and lakes. They pollute the water supply in these areas with blood that is being dumped after use. This ignorance, lack of knowledge of regulations and lack of awareness is causing serious damage to these natural environments and the wildlife inhabiting these areas. Blood proteins should not be dumped as they do have value and use. In order to protect the environment, this pollution of by products must be banned. When half a litre of blood is added to water it consumes the oxygen of 20 litres of the water. The water drained from a single pig can destroy up to 80 litres of water. This pollution that is being wasted can easily be utilised in greater levels as at present, blood proteins are mainly used for humans and pet foods for animals (Sjoberg, 2015).

1.7 Food Innovation

In recent years, food product development has been strongly influenced by consumer’s growing interest in food and exacting standards; this has resulted in innovative and exciting products being brought to market (Stolzenbach et al., 2013; Topp, 2007). In the ever globalising food market, innovative food product development is a critical strategic tool which must be used in order to maintain or acquire competitive advantage and to meet and exceed consumer’s expectations (Menrad, 2004; Wang & Lin, 2009; Gellynck., 2007). New product development success is based on three key areas of focus for a business or individual; “product development strategy, market orientation and organisation of product development” (Harmsen, 1994, pg2).

An innovative product is deemed as ‘new’ when it encourages or causes consumers to change their behaviour (Bogue, 2000). In terms of food innovation in molecular gastronomy and its applications in the food industry: former industry chemicals are now being used in innovative ways, to create dishes and products in the food market. Liquid nitrogen; now utilised in innovative kitchens across the world has given chefs and scientists the technology to cryogenically freeze foods, to transform and enhance both existing ingredients and dishes into something exciting and different (Gibbs & Myhrvold, 2011; Molecular Gastronomy Network, 2016; Cazor, 2016). Scientific equipment such as thermo-regulators and ultrasonic homogenisers facilitate chefs in the creation of innovative dishes such as disappearing transparent pasta (Villariano, 2006; Adria, 2009). Seaweed hydrocolloid; sodium alginate is widely used in molecular cooking to create caviar using innovative flavours such as bacon (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015; Instructables, 2016).

1.7 New Product Development and Food Innovation

Customers are more demanding and more engaged in the food product development process and more food products have been produced in recent years (Stolzenbach et al., 2013). Developing new and innovative products grants producers the capability to compete in mature and developed markets. These products perform several roles: replace products that face declining sales at the end of their lifecycles, and contribute to creating customer satisfaction and loyalty (Grunert et al.¸ 2004). Innovation is an essential strategic tool for food enterprises to achieve competitive advantage, to stand out from competitors and to fulfil consumer expectations (Wang & Lin, 2009). Food innovations are often rejected by consumers as a result of food neophobia (Barrena & Sánchez, 2013). Many technology-based innovations (e.g., information technology) have been incorporated into daily life with high levels of consumer acceptance; on the other hand, others have been met with substantial resistance such as genetically modified foods (GMFs) and food irradiation (Ronteltap et al., 2007). As a result, 80 % to 90 % of all newly developed products in the food and beverage market fail (Duber-Smith & Black, 2012).

The considerable development in research and food innovation has led to an increase of new foods entering the market and which have a key role to play in the sustainable development and competitiveness of the sector (Bäckström et al., 2004). The agriculture and food sectors are extremely important to the Irish economy. One in seven jobs in Ireland is in the food industry, with over 300,000 people working in the growing processing and selling of Irish food (Phelan & O’Connell, 2011). In particular, science, technology and innovation are vital to the Irish economic and social progress. Irish food exporters should focus on innovation leading to brand building based around customer feedback as a means to capturing greater market value (Bord Bia, 2010). Some steps have already been taken to begin this process. The Kerry Group have begun the running of a global flagship technology and innovation research and development centre in Naas, Co. Kildare, which became operational last year in 2015.

According to CSO (2012), the food industry in Ireland accounts for an annual output of approximately €20 billion. The development of a food and agriculture sector which is sustainable from an economic and social point of view is critically important to Ireland’s future development. Food product development is essential for survival of the product in an economical global market (Wang & Lin, 2009). New and alternative food processing, as well as novel combinations of methods (sous vide cooking etc.), are continually being sought by industry in the pursuit of producing better quality foods (Rastogi, 2010). The application of molecular gastronomy to food products has great potential for providing customers with novel food products, and supply manufacturers with unique selling points.

Gastronomy and the industry of fine dining are becoming major drivers for food innovation (Aguilera, 2009). Food manufacturers assess marketplace trends, and very often monitor what trends are currently popular in restaurants in order to develop concepts for new products (Moskowitz et al., 2009). Chefs are integral in the process of creating novel food products through actively participating in the generation of ideas, process development, and final applications (Valdovinos, 2009). For many years now, chefs have experimented with liquid nitrogen, rotary steamers, thermo-regulators, ultrasonic mixers and other laboratory type equipment to design radically different food items such as vodka mayonnaise, transparent pasta stuffed with caviar and others (Villariano, 2006). Product development centres of food multinationals are listening to chefs and bringing them into their quarters to profit from their approaches, thereby increasing the dissemination, popularity and use of new products, and subsequently expanding niches for their products (Valdovinos, 2009). Food product developers should be alert about this top-down trend of innovation as it may lead to improved goods with added novelty (Aguilera, 2009). Furthermore, the use of analytical methods combined with the principles of molecular gastronomy and supported by statistical predictive models such as response surface methodology can produce outstanding outcomes in food product development (Rodgers, 2008); the only issue being seen to dampen this is neophobia (the fear of trying new foods), not only does it affect young children but adults too and their unwillingness to try new foods themselves is also preventing many children from broadening their own taste buds and have the same mind-set as their parents.

Food companies continuously develop new products to meet

changing needs, wants and preferences in their target markets,

and to safeguard growth and competitive advantage in their marketing

environment. As many new products still fail on the market,

the use of consumer insight is deemed crucial in the new food product

development process (Grunert, Verbeke, Kügler, Saeed, &

Scholderer, 2011). While consumer insight is relevant in every

stage of new product development, ranging from the generation

and screening of ideas, over the development and testing of concepts,

to the testing of prototypes, it is especially consumer

research during the latter stage that provides insight close to the

situation as it will result when the new product is launched on

the market.

The growing consumer interest in healthier and more natural

meat products continues to shape the meat industry and its production

(Bedale, Sindelar, & Milkowski, 2016; Verbeke, Pérez-

Cueto, de Barcellos, Krystallis, & Grunert, 2010), partly due to consumers’

fear resulting from consecutive waves of safety scares,

adverse health effects, sustainability and adulteration issues (e.g.

Barnett et al., 2016; IARC, 2015; Verbeke, Frewer, Scholderer, &

De Brabander, 2007). Meanwhile, sensory characteristics such as

taste remain crucial criteria for product acceptance, trial and

repeat purchase (e.g. Saeed, Grunert, & Therkildsen, 2013;

Sindelar, Cordray, Olson, Sebranek, & Love, 2007). In line with this,

the present study analyses prototype newly developed processed

meat products with added natural compounds and a reduced level

of nitrite through an experimental auction combined with product

tasting, sensory evaluation and information provision. The study

herewith provides insights into the role of sensory attributes as

the experience dimension of quality (Papanagiotou, Tzimitra-

Kalogianni, & Melfou, 2013), and of information about the innovative

characteristics of the new products as a credence dimension of quality (Fernqvist & Ekelund, 2014), in shaping consumer reactions.

Willingness-to-pay (WTP) is chosen as the response variable

of interest, and the elastic net regularization method and regression

tree analysis are used to identify the important determinants

of WTP and investigate the magnitude of effects.

Processed meat products have been heavily debated owing to

their potential adverse health impact, yet, they remain an important

component of the diet in many countries (Grunert, 2006;

Mathijs, 2015). While it is unlikely that consumers will drastically

change their eating habits towards healthier options or through

eliminating processed meat products from their diet, a potentially

effective policy option is to reformulate products (Capacci et al.,

2012). This is exactly what the EU-FP7 project PHYTOME envisaged:

the development of innovative processed meat products in

which the level of nitrite is reduced and natural compounds from

fruits or vegetables (phytochemicals) are added to preserve technological

and sensory quality, as well as product safety and shelf

life. This type of innovation can be regarded as an incremental –

rather than radical – innovation, i.e. a relatively small improvement

to an existing product or product line. The newly developed

processed meat products are henceforth referred to as ’new processed

meat products’.

The concept of these new processed meat products has been

favourably evaluated by stakeholders and consumers (Hung, de

Kok, & Verbeke, 2016; Hung, Verbeke, & de Kok, 2016; Strijbos

et al., 2016). Though not fully understood by consumers, nitrite

has a negative health image as a chemical additive, whereas

extracts from fruits and vegetables were perceived as natural and

healthy ingredients. The exploratory study of Hung et al. (2016)

also highlighted that sensory characteristics are key attributes for

acceptance, while numerous challenges in market positioning

and communication of these new processed meat products can

be expected (e.g. with respect to message storytelling as shown

by Fenger, Aschemann-Witzel, Hansen, and Grunert (2015)) due

to the apparent gap between consumers’ perceptions and facts

about processed meat ingredients. These insights were further consolidated

in a quantitative study by Hung et al. (2016), wherein

consumer attitudes and purchase intentions towards these new

processed meat products were quantified and found to be generally

favourable. Market segments were identified to help overcome

the challenges in further product development and marketing

communication strategies. Nevertheless, favourable reception of

the idea and concept does not provide sufficient support or guarantee

for future market place success, especially since sensory expectations

emerged as major issue of concern among consumers.

Therefore, once prototypes are available, further consumer

research is warranted. This is what the studies described in this

paper provide.

Assessments of product liking based on sensory acceptability

have often been performed in food-related marketing and consumer

research, but the high market failure rate of newly launched

products calls for a more realistic perspective on consumers’ purchase

intention and behaviour. WTP reflects consumers’ preferences

and is linked to purchase intention (Ajzen & Driver, 1992).

It is measured in a monetary and globally understood unit, and it

provides more concrete insights than ratings of liking, for example

(Lawless, Drichoutis, Nayga, Threlfall, & Meullenet, 2015). Since

consumers tend to overstate their WTP in a hypothetical setting

(List & Gallet, 2001), the use of non-hypothetical methods such

as experimental auction methods are recommended to obtain a

realistic estimation of consumers’ true preference (Chang, Lusk, &

Norwood, 2009). By combining data collection through an experimental

auction in parallel with sensory evaluation and information

provision, the present study aims at answering the question of how

sensory experience and credence dimensions of quality determine

consumers’ WTP for new processed meat products. The nature and

magnitude of influence of these determinants on WTP yields concrete

directions for product improvement on specific sensory

attributes.

This study is, to the best of our knowledge, the first attempt to

estimate WTP for new processed meat products combining a nonhypothetical

auction mechanism and sensory evaluation. Using the

new processed meat products as case studies, this paper presents

originality both in terms of empirics and methodologies. The specific

objectives of this study are twofold. First, to investigate the

determinants of consumers’ WTP, notably sensory attribute evaluations

and the order of tasting experience and exposure to information.

Second, as sensory attributes are typically highly

correlated (Xiong & Meullenet, 2006), and although the studies

described in this paper have considerably large sample sizes for

this type of experimental design, a complex model can still suffer

from an overfitting problem (Babyak, 2004). To deal with this issue

the second objective of the study is to explore and elaborate Elastic

net (EN) regularised regression and regression tree analysis as an

alternative analytical approach to model the effects of sensory

evaluations on WTP under data constraints.

1.8 My research

  1. Research Aim & Objectives

1.8.1 Aim

The aim of this research is to develop an understanding for high value added protein products, in order to push the use of waste and sustainability for our growing population.

1.8.2 Objectives

To Investigate:

1.

2. The main attributes consumers seek when purchasing bacon through the use of a consumer survey.

Chapter 2 Materials and Methods

2.      Materials and Methods

In order to determine whether the aim of the research was met, the results of the quantitative descriptive analysis had to be compared. The comparison was carried in two ways: visually, using spider plot diagrams and statistically using Paired Two Sample for Means T Tests in Microsoft Excel 2013 (Stone & Sidel, 2004).

A questionnaire is defined as “a tool for soliciting and recording written responses from individuals”, (Lang & Heiss, 1994:120). ‘Survey’ is a term that is applied to a research methodology created to collect data from a sample of a population and typically utilizes a questionnaire or interview style questionnaire as the survey instrument. According to Lang and Heiss a questionnaire must be neat and attractive to show the potential respondent the value it adds to the research. Closed ended questions give each respondent a series of predetermined answers to choose from for each question, this is the collection of quantitative research (Johnson & Christensen, 2010). The questionnaire consisted of 12 closed ended questions. The purpose of the questionnaire was simply to determine which attributes consumers look for when buying/consuming meat. The questionnaire was generated using ‘Google Forms’ as it is easy to distribute online to a wide range of people. The questionnaire was completed by colleagues and friends. A copy of the survey has been included in Appendix 6. Google Forms, a Google application was used to analyse the data.

A systematic literature review technique was used to collect and consolidate the existing knowledge on consumers’ acceptance and preferences toward nutrition-modified and functional meat products.

 

Chapter 3 Results and Discussion



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