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Innovations in traditional foods: Impact on perceived traditional character and consumer acceptance

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Kjetil Aune

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kjetil.aune@nofima.no

Food Research International 2013; Volume 54. p. 1828–1835. 2013

Vanhonacker, Filiep; Kühne, Bianka; Gellynck, Xavier; Guerrero, Luis; Hersleth, Margrethe; Verbeke, Wim

Traditional food products represent a growing segment in the European food market. In order to maintain or expand their market share and profitability, the traditional food sector is also forced to innovate. More than for other food categories, the level of novelty and its conceptualization will be a critical determinant of consumer acceptance of innovations. Based on a pan-European survey (n=4828), consumer acceptance of innovations in traditional food products has been investigated. Consumer acceptance is linked to the perceived impact of the innovation on the traditional character of the resulting food product. Findings illustrate that consumers are generally open towards innovations in traditional food products. The highest levels of acceptance are found for innovations that reinforce the traditional character of the product (e.g. a label that guarantees the origin of the raw material) or provide benefits from improving negative attributes associated with the traditional character of foods (e.g. the reduction of fat or salt content). The more narrowly consumers define traditional food, the more their acceptance is influenced by the perceived impact of the innovation on the traditional character of the food product. The results demonstrate that the innovations covered in this study would barely succeed in attracting new consumers to traditional foods, while consumers with a medium or high consumption frequency of traditional food products expressed a clear positive acceptance for a wide variety of innovations in traditional foods. The traditional food sector can benefit from the insights provided by this study to customize specific products for specific consumer segments and to communicate and market their products accordingly.

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