Differences between organic and conventional leafy green vegetables perceived by university students: Vegetables attributes or attitudinal aspects?

Diogo Thimoteo Da Cunha (Multidisciplinary Laboratory in Food and Health, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)
Adriane Elisabete Costa Antunes (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)
Julia Gabriela Da Rocha (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)
Talita Gaspar Dutra (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)
Catarina Vezetiv Manfrinato (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)
Julicristie Machado Oliveira (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)
Mauricio Ariel Rostagno (Multidisciplinary Laboratory in Food and Health, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 1 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate perceived sensory differences of organic and conventional leafy green vegetables through three sensory tests – blind, informed and inverted and the willingness to buy (WTB) them, and associated factors of organic food consumption by these students.

Design/methodology/approach

The research had a cross-sectional design with university students. First, a questionnaire with 16 statements was presented to 233 consumers with a five-point Likert scale response. The assertions were categorized into five domains: trust in organic production; trust in conventional production; positive attitude to organic; affordable price; and perceived quality. Afterwards, a hedonic scaling was conducted with 150 consumers, 50 in each type of test with conventional and organic leafy green vegetables: lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.); kale (Brassica oleracea L.); common chicory (Cichorium intybus); and endive (Cichorium endivia). Visual aspect, taste, texture, bitterness and overall liking for all samples were evaluated on a nine-point hedonic scale.

Findings

In general, the participants did not perceive sensory differences during the blind test, but when the information about the vegetables was provided, higher scores were obtained by those products labelled as organic in the informed test and in the inverted test (conventional labelled as organic). This effect was higher for students with stronger attitudes towards organic food. These results indicated that the perceived differences between organic and conventional leafy green by university students tended to be attitudinal and, therefore, can be greatly influenced by the information provided with the product.

Originality/value

This research showed that university students were influenced by the organic label, revealing their sensory perception about vegetables. This study had multiple methodological approaches, including hedonic scaling and consumers’ WTB. This combination allowed identifying the students’ attitudinal tendency in relation to their sensory perceptions of organic green leafy green vegetables.

Keywords

Citation

Da Cunha, D.T., Antunes, A.E.C., Da Rocha, J.G., Dutra, T.G., Manfrinato, C.V., Oliveira, J.M. and Rostagno, M.A. (2019), "Differences between organic and conventional leafy green vegetables perceived by university students: Vegetables attributes or attitudinal aspects?", British Food Journal, Vol. 121 No. 7, pp. 1579-1591. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-08-2018-0503

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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