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What’s in it for me? Food packaging and consumer responses, a focus group study

Fredrik Fernqvist (Department of Work Science, Business Economics and Environmental Psychology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden)
Annika Olsson (Department of Design Sciences, Packaging Logistics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Sara Spendrup (Department of Work Science, Business Economics and Environmental Psychology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore consumer views on different aspects of packaging, exemplified by a common product in the fruit and vegetable category and to identify advantages and disadvantages perceived by consumers purchasing packaged or unpackaged products.

Design/methodology/approach

Three focus group interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis based on theory was performed. The findings were categorised into nine themes.

Findings

Consumer views on packaging aspects were revealed, covering: packaging material; pack size; protection and preservation; convenience; price; communication and information; ethical perspectives; novelty and innovation; and advantages and disadvantages of packaged and unpackaged products.

Research limitations/implications

The study adds to present knowledge on the role of packaging in consumers’ food choices. The qualitative analysis identified areas for further research through quantitative methods.

Practical implications

Challenges in communicating the consumer benefits of packaging and ways to improve the attractiveness of items in the fresh produce category were identified. The results can potentially assist in improving food packaging design practice to the mutual benefit of consumers and suppliers.

Originality/value

Fruit and vegetables is generally a category with weak branding and low levels of packaging. This study examined the role of packaging in a category with substantial opportunities for differentiation and increasing consumer value. The results can be applied in immediate practice and/or serve as a basis for further research.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to funding from The Swedish Farmers’ Foundation for Agricultural Research and The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.

Citation

Fernqvist, F., Olsson, A. and Spendrup, S. (2015), "What’s in it for me? Food packaging and consumer responses, a focus group study", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 3, pp. 1122-1135. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-08-2013-0224

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited