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Title: Consumers’ growing appetite for natural foods: Perceptions towards the use of natural preservatives in fresh fruit
Authors: Mesías Díaz, Francisco Javier
Martín Dorado, Ana
Hernández León, Alejandro
Keywords: Biocontrol;Qualitative research;Consumer;Perceptions;Fruit;Natural preservatives;Focus group;Consumidor;Percepciones;Fruta;Conservantes naturales;Biocontrol;Grupo de enfoque;Investigación cualitativa
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: Recent changes in food purchasing and consumption have led consumers to place greater importance on aspects such as convenience and the impact of food production and processing on health and the environment. This, in turn, poses a challenge for the food industry, especially with respect to highly perishable foods such as fruit. Great efforts have been made by the industry to reduce post-harvest losses by using natural preservatives that can replace traditional chemical fungicides, which are increasingly rejected by both citizens and governments. In this context, the purpose of this study was to obtain an overview of consumer perceptions towards the application of these novel products in fruit. In order to achieve this goal, five focus group sessions were held in multiple Spanish cities from December 2019 to February 2020. A total of 48 people with a mixed socio-demographic background took part in the study. The results showed both positive and negative consumer perceptions towards fruit, on the one hand being healthy and natural, and on the other lacking convenience. Packaging increases fruit convenience at the cost of its perception as a natural food product. In addition, consumers reported negative opinions associated with both the use of chemicals to improve fruit preservation and the environmental impact of the packaging. Participants showed interest in the use of natural preservatives in fruit, as these are considered more natural, healthier and more environmentally friendly. Although natural preservatives can influence consumers’ fruit purchasing decisions, lack of information about such preservatives can cause doubts about their effectiveness and misjudgements about the price premium they add. Therefore, information about these types of preservatives, their characteristics and their benefits is key to overcoming mistrust and communicating to consumers the differentiation that their use adds to foods.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2021.110749
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