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Consumer Perceptions: The Irradiation Project

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  1. Consumer Perceptions:The Irradiation Project April 16, 2002 Overview – Approach and Key Findings

  2. Background/Objectives

  3. Project Objectives • Palatability • Measure palatability of ground beef at low dose of irradiation • Consumer Acceptance • Measure consumer acceptance of irradiated ground beef • Define consumer attitude segments regarding beef irradiation • Consumer Education • Determine optimal way to communicate value proposition … • Language, educational materials

  4. Study Design Follow-UpFocus Groups QuantitativeStudy 928 pre-recruitment(Denver and Atlanta) • Six focus groups • Denver and Atlanta • Discuss communication options and probe on food safety, introduction strategies, etc. 582 placement interviewsconsumers In-home trial Non-Irradiated &Placebo152 Households Non-Irradiated & Irradiated 323 Households 475 post-use interviews among consumers that ate hamburger in-home

  5. Insights: Palatability

  6. Color Impacts Preference • With antioxidant addition in Atlanta, irradiated burger was preferred over the non-irradiated Denver Test Atlanta Test Control Cell(received placebo) A B D B C D A B D

  7. Burger Attribute Ratings: Overall Satisfaction with Burger - Post-Use - Denver 117 (Irradiated) Atlanta 117 (Irradiated) Denver 453 (Non-Irradiated) Atlanta 453 (Non-Irradiated) Denver 909 (Placebo) Atlanta 909 (Placebo) Using Antioxidants a Solution • In Atlanta, irradiated burger outperformed non-irradiated • Also tested comparably to the placebo patty

  8. Hedonic Scores • Scores discussed on previous page are illustrated below Hedonic Scores- Post Use - 6.7 Aroma 6.6 +.2 (Atlanta) 6.5 5.9 Juicy 5.8 +.2 (Atlanta) 5.6 6.8 Flavor 6.7 +.2 (Atlanta) 6.5 6.8 Beef Flavor Amount 6.6 +.3 (Atlanta) 6.4 5.7 Leanness of Burger 5.3 +.2 (Atlanta) 5.9 6.9 Overall Satisfaction 6.7 +.2 (Atlanta) 6.6 0 2 4 6 8 10 Irradiated Non-irradiated Placebo

  9. Insights: Customer Segmentation

  10. Post Project Update: Porter-Novelli Telephone Survey2 Because of the threat of bioterrorism, the government should require irradiation to help ensure a safe food supply Disagreed … 22% Don’t Know …26% Agreed …52% Rejectors Rejectors • Rejectors hated everything about irradiation • Not concerned about food safety … thus irradiation has no benefit • See lots of downsides … long-term health risk concerns • Do not trust endorsers of irradiation • One respondent hypothesized that the “irradiated beef council” would go to Washington and pay off the USDA • Another might buy “If I had a friend that worked in an irradiation plant for along time, who could explain the process to me, and tell me that it was safe”. (15% of study households)1

  11. Doubters • Doubters were not strongly against irradiation … it just did not provide benefit, thus, any concern was a reason to reject • Food safety concerns are not overly high • Kept asking for more and more information about the “process” …were never satisfied • Definitely do not want to pay more • Are interested in irradiated ground beef in restaurants where they are notin control of sanitation and cooking processes Doubters (24% of study households)

  12. Interesteds • The Interested group just needs a bit of reassurance about irradiation • Need to know taste will not be impacted • Endorsements by government and public health authorities add credibility • Much milder level of concern about food safety (34% of study households) Interested

  13. Change in Irradiation Concerns: Irradiation Does Not Change the Texture or Taste of Ground Beef 14% 45% Strong IGB Buyers 60% 9% IGB Interested 27% 23% IGB Doubters 21% 21% IGB Rejectors 60% 40% 80% 20% 80% 100% 100% 20% 40% 60% 0 Less Concerned More Concerned Q46d 1 Taste Reinforcement • Interesteds want confirmation that taste will not be impacted

  14. Rejectors Interested Customer Segmentation • Strong Buyers see irradiated beef as a superior product … taste, value, safety • Very motivated to buy irradiated ground beef (15+% of study households) Strong Buyers Doubters (27% of study households) (24%) (34%) Least Favorable Most Favorable Beef Irradiation Note 1: This group represented 15% of the study households. An additional 7% refused to participate during the initial recruit because “the study was about beef irradiation.” Among those who agreed initially to participate and then dropped out of the study, one can hypothesize that refusal may have been due to a second adult in the household that was a Rejector.

  15. Strong Buyers • Strong Buyers motivated by premise that irradiated ground beef will safeguard health • Believe that the product tastes better • Strong trust in government and public health organizations • Strong food safety concerns Strong Buyers

  16. Insights: Mind Over Matter

  17. Perceptions and the Placebo • The most striking result in the study was the variation in palatability scores based on assigned segments • Lower scores given the placebo product by “Doubters” and “Rejectors” • Higher score given by “Strong Buyers” Overall Score:6.7 Overall Score:6.9

  18. Irradiation Attitudes Play a Role in Palatability Reaction • Identical pattern was seen for the irradiated product that was sampled Overall Satisfaction: Irradiated Burger - Post-Use - Overall Satisfaction: Placebo - Post-Use - Overall Score:6.9 Overall Score:6.6 (1) Note 1: Atlanta score was 6.8

  19. Implications for Grocery and Foodservice: Willingness to PayInterest and Store LoyaltyPurchase Frequency

  20. Segments and Grocery Distribution • Three of the four segments agree that irradiated ground beef should be offeredas a “choice”

  21. Segments and Grocery Distribution • Two of the four segments agreed that availability of IGB would stimulateadditional purchases

  22. Strong IGB Buyers IGB Interested IGB Doubters IGB Rejectors Definitely Not Probably Not Probably Definitely Segments and Foodservice • “Doubters” suddenly interested in IGB if offered in restaurants • Qualitatively, we heard greater concerns about “cleanliness” and perceived“loss of control” Willing to Order IGB at Restaurant Willing to Order IGB at Restaurant - Post - Use - - Post - Use - Definitely/Probably Not Probably/Definitely 2% 99% 39% 60% 6 5% 6% 92% 65% 27% 3 26% 4 49% 26% 37% 35% 50% 12% 62% 79% 21% 35% 44% 21% 60% 40% 20% 100% 80% 100% 20% 40% 60% 80% 0 Q44

  23. Education • Information Desired

  24. Education • Food safety statements deemed most important in explaining the benefit of irradiation IGB Attributes: Total IGB Attributes: Total - Post - Use - - Post - Use - Disagree Agree 8% 84% 7% 45% 39% Much safer to buy Health Benefit 17% 80% 5% 4 13% 39% 41% Preferable; due to health concerns 38% 56% 14% 24% 17% 39% Worth more money 5 16% 33% 25% 58% 21% More practical, lasts longer 33% 48% 8% 25% 31% 17% Higher quality beef product 6 19% 28% 18% 25% 46% 13% More consistent quality % 18 % % 42% 28 24 16% 44% Better tasting 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Strongly disagree Somewhat Disagree Somewhat Agree Strongly Agree Q38

  25. 1 Beef Irradiation Study Example of Time Series Using multiple bars Perceived Importance of Irradiation Statements - Placement - 9.2 Reduces e-coli 9.1 Reduces risk of sickness 9.1 Safer for children 9.0 Safer for older consumers 8.9 Safer preparation 8.6 Approved by USDA 8.5 Safer to eat 8.0 Already used in food 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Q14

  26. Moving Forward

  27. The Upside • Strong Buyers, and to a lesser extent, Interesteds report a potential for increasing their purchases of ground beef if IGB is introduced • Strong Buyers also see IGB as a statement that the beef industry“cares about their safety” • Strong Buyers will be relatively quick to adopt and are willing to paymore for IGB • Interesteds will be fairly quick to adopt, once they are reassuredabout taste issues and understand the process • Strong Buyers, Interesteds and Doubters are all interested in IGB in the foodservice industry. Doubters do not want to pay additional money for IGB

  28. Continue the Drive for Support • Need a broad base of support to introduce Beef Industry • Some segments thought beef industry too “biased” to be source of information … might “profit” from introduction + Government Bodies • Doubters did not fully trust government agencies vouching for irradiation + 3rd Party Independent Groups • Public health authorities seen as least biased

  29. Language • Try to change the name • In one focus group, the entire tone changed when the name “irradiated” was replaced with “cold pasteurization” • Instead of questioning every point made by the moderator, it was suddenly “all right” • Consumers may hear “irradiation” but they think “radiation” • Morbid statements follow – “will I glow,” an “evil experiment,” “I started to get hives when I tasted the meat,” “I really started to feel sick” • Food safety is the primary benefit • Specifically, talking about e-coli reduction was not a turn-off • Stress this as another “layer” of protection, with cooking to an adequate temperature as the ultimate protection • Otherwise, some consumers start to trade off risks – “Since irradiation makes it safer,I can cook it less.”