Consumers' perceptions and evaluations of meat quality attributes such as color and shelf life influence purchasing decisions, and these product attributes can be affected by the type of fresh meat packaging system. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) extends the shelf life of fresh meat and, with the inclusion of carbon monoxide (CO-MAP), achieves significant color stabilization. The objective of this study was to assess whether consumers would accept specific packaging technologies and what value consumers place on ground beef packaged under various atmospheres when their choices involved the attributes of color and shelf life. The study used nonhypothetical consumer choice experiments to determine the premiums that consumers are willing to pay for extended shelf life resulting from MAP and for the "cherry red'' color in meat resulting from CO-MAP. The experimental design allowed determination of whether consumers would discount foods with MAP or COMAP when (i) they are given more detailed information about the technologies and (ii) they have different levels of individual knowledge and media exposure. The empirical analysis was conducted using multinomial logit models. Results indicate that consumers prefer an extension of shelf life as long as the applied technology is known and understood. Consumers had clear preferences for brighter (aerobic and CO) red color and were willing to pay $0.16/lb ($0.35/kg) for each level of change to the preferred color. More information on MAP for extending the shelf life and on CO-MAP for stabilizing color decreased consumers' willingness to pay. An increase in personal knowledge and media exposure influenced acceptance of CO-MAP negatively. The results provide quantitative measures of how packaging affects consumers' acceptance and willingness to pay for products. Such information can benefit food producers and retailers who make decisions about investing in new packaging methods.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science