Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Food Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Food Science

Advisor

Han-Seok Seo

Committee Member

Jean-Francois Meullenet

Second Committee Member

Phillip G. Crandall

Third Committee Member

Navam S. Hettiarachchy

Fourth Committee Member

Casey M. Owens-Hanning

Keywords

Biological sciences; Education; Label claims; Purchase intent; Sensory perception; Sustainability; Visual attention

Abstract

Recently, sustainability and process-related label claims have gained immense popularity especially for meat products like chicken. Apart from providing consumers with required product information, these labels have an impact on consumer perception and purchase behavior. The objective of this study was to determine whether providing label information affects consumers’ awareness and attitude toward the claims found on chicken products. Additionally, it was analyzed if enhanced label understanding affects consumers’ sensory and quality perceptions along with purchase intent. A total of 110 participants were randomly distributed into 1 of 3 types of education sessions: (1) reading a flyer (passive learning), (2) attending lecture by a professor (passive learning with authoritative effect), and (3) group discussion (active learning). Each participant filled out an awareness survey about 10 label claims commonly shown on chicken products. Participants’ objective label understanding, as well as subjective understanding significantly increased following the educational sessions, regardless of type of education. However, passive learning demonstrated greater potential to induce positive label attitude among participants as opposed to active learning, which actually had a negative impact. Top scorers from this study were chosen as the High Label-Understanding (HLU) group to further compare sensory perception and purchase behavior regarding chicken meat products with respect to their non-educated counterparts, i.e., the control (CNTL) group. High label-understanding was instrumental in participants associating higher quality perception and liking toward labeled samples compared to non-labeled ones. Additionally, this effect varied as a function of type of label claims. It was found that the trust participants vested in the label claims strongly impacted their quality and acceptability ratings. Finally, HLU group looked out for label claims on the chicken products while making purchase decision more than CNTL group. High label-understanding led to an increase in liking and trust toward chicken products with sustainability and process-related label claims. In conclusion, label education positively affects participants’ label understanding and attitude toward label claims, in turn affecting their sensory acceptability and purchase intent. Thus, poultry processors can tap this information to increase acceptability and sales of their respective products.

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