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Effect of information on public perception of organic foods: a case study

Taniya Jayani Koswatta (Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA) (Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Gary Wingenbach (Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Holli R. Leggette (Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 27 December 2022

15

Abstract

Purpose

When scientific information is unclear about the health benefits of foods, people choose to react in different ways. Using a posttest-only control group design, the authors tested how balanced and nonfactual information available on YouTube influences public perception of organic foods.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors randomly assigned participants (N = 640) from a southern US land grant university to watch one video: balanced news, nonfactual news, or control. All participants indicated changes in perception about organic foods immediately after the video. The authors analyzed the data using one-way and two-way ANOVA.

Findings

The nonfactual news video had the most influence on public perception of organic foods. Results confirmed that the effect of nonfactual information was more for individuals with preexisting beliefs consistent with the message communicated and individuals exposed to average to high levels of health and diet news.

Practical implications

The authors recommend regulatory changes in marketing strategies related to organic foods in the US that encourage balanced information about organic foods rather than promoting credence attributes of organic foods using persuasive information.

Originality/value

The authors findings suggest that, when scientific information about the health benefits of foods is unclear, communication activities should aim to increase healthy skepticism considering the audience's preexisting beliefs and frequency of health and diet news exposure.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Prof. Barbara Gastel (ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0804-2953) and Prof. Theresa Pesl Murphrey (ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4996-6087) for their helpful comments that help us to improve this manuscript.

Funding: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Citation

Koswatta, T.J., Wingenbach, G. and Leggette, H.R. (2022), "Effect of information on public perception of organic foods: a case study", British Food Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-06-2022-0560

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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