Sustainability attributes in Food choice
Consumer food needs are moving up in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – from satisfying their physiological needs to food safety to social esteem, and even self-fulfilment. As consumer perception of healthy eating wavers throughout their lifetime according to knowledge, experience, and particularly, the type of information they gain, food trends, climate crisis, and health issues allow for varying perspectives. Consumer`s income elasticities and demand for food quality attributes are influencing the growth in the food sector. In recent years, this has led to the significant increase in demand for the special range of quality attributes.
Witnessing an increasing importance of sustainability attributes in consumer food decisions, Food and Beverage manufacturers consider the simultaneous effects of extrinsic and intrinsic attributes and pair them with food regulatory compliance for new product development and labelling practices.
Sustainability – Extrinsic – Credence Attribute
Quality is a multidimensional attribute that can be differentiated into intrinsic and extrinsic attributes. Intrinsic attributes are related to physical aspects of a product, which are very specific to each product; these include sensory attributes that are differentiated as search (visual) and experience (taste) attributes.
Credence attributes are not actually part of the physical item itself. In general, an extrinsic attribute of a food product is a credence attribute that cannot be verified even after purchase and consumption. It covers different dimensions; for example, nutrition, dietary requirements, food safety, ethical concerns, geographical origin, health, and the type of production methods. Since credence characteristics are not verifiable, credence attributes require standards or certifications to be communicated to consumers.
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Credence attributes are important to achieve the product differentiation for food and drink manufacturers. They have a significant impact on consumer satisfaction, loyalty, and purchasing intention as well as a direct and indirect effect on the perceived quality of a product, which in turn has an impact on a consumer’s willingness to pay.
Growing consumer awareness on the role of food in the climate change crisis is leading to focus on sustainable and healthy attributes in food products.
Currently, healthiness and sustainability are the most preferred credence attributes of food products. In recent times, consumers are not only becoming aware of the connection between food and health, but of food and environment, so they are making conscious choices about their food products.
Ethical veganism is not anymore a trend, but is becoming a way of living. By preferring vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian choices, consumers are also changing their food habits and opting for food items that are healthy for their body and earth. Thus, the demand for food items and products that are rich in protein and fiber plant-based foods are skyrocketing.
Changes in food consumption – mainly the consumer’s shift to healthier diets – are significant, therefore consumer purchasing behaviour of food products are changing drastically and moving towards healthy and sustainable food. According to the 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend report, the health trend is becoming more mainstream as consumers continue to make their food choices according to their own definition of personal health. As these trends emerge, 40% of consumers say their definition of health has changed over the past two years.
As far as food choice is concerned, food product perception is meaningful, where it is especially important that a consumer perceives a product to be beneficial. Consumers often choose food products related to their benefits such as health, convenience nutrition and satiety, which again creates demand for healthy-functional and sustainable attributes in food products.
However, consumers are aware that organic foods are healthy due to the absence of genetically modified, synthetic pesticides, and fertilizers, therefore, consumer demand for organic foods is increasing. Local food plays a major role in one’s perception of what is fresh and healthy, as they are generally perceived more favourably to imported products. Particularly, consumers consider the type of farming and production practices, animal welfare, and fair-trade practices.
Freshness and Naturalness of the food
The type of additives and processing that go into a product also influence consumer purchase. Natural preservatives are preferred by consumers, which shows consumer’s interest in the clean trend and naturalness of products.
Processed functional foods are enriched or fortified with functional ingredients to enhance health. Consumers consider functional foods healthy while they connect food to health to prevent the growing food-related chronic diseases, to increase healthy life years, decrease health care costs, and maintain overall health. Based on this, consumer perception of healthy eating is not only about energy intake, but also the enrichment of nutrients, and even beyond the nutrients.
Healthy, sustainable, and convenient food sectors are growing and expanding globally due to evolving lifestyle factors and food trends. Moreover, the supply side trends are growing with technology, particularly in the food industry, by processing and developing functional and novel foods.
The increasing importance of product attributes in consumer food decisions have led to increased pressure on product development in food and beverage manufacturing.
Food and beverage manufacturers are challenged to incorporate the evolving credence attributes in their new product development. Additionally, it is important to take the simultaneous effects of extrinsic and intrinsic product attributes into account.
It is important for communicative purposes and achieving credibility to provide clear labelling OF CREDENCE ATTRIBUTES which is compliant to regulations. Product Data Management can provide this competitive advantage through product assessment and revision of existing labelling practices, including product name, ingredient lists, design, and format regarding relevant regulations. SpecPage’s SpecPDM also grants support in the development of informative labels in accordance with local legislations of target countries, in each respective language.
SpecPage’s formula-based lifecycle management software delivers a holistic approach to these challenges – empowering food and beverage manufacturers to accelerate innovations, leverage new product trends and introductions, streamline costs, and deliver better-quality products with enhanced global regulatory compliance to reduce risk.