Nanotechnology is a technology that holds much promise for food production. It is however not clear to what extent consumers will accept different types of nanotechnologies in food products. The paper researches consumer attitudes towards differing applications of food nanotechnologies.
Using an attribute-based approach, we compare a product with three different nanotechnology application types (during production, implemented in packaging, and as additive to the food) with the same product without any nanotechnology attributes.
Adding a nanotechnology attribute is shown to contribute to the overall product attitude, without substantially affecting the contribution of the other product attributes to overall product attitude. There are no indications that nanotechnology provides a non-compensatory barrier against acceptance. Risk perception increased for applications proximate to consumers while benefits remained similar across conditions.
Low distance applications (e.g., nano-additives that enter the body) are perceived as riskier, but not necessarily more beneficial, implying they will be rejected more readily by consumers. Food producers should primarily focus on reducing consumers’ risk perceptions of nanotechnologies and providing (and communicating clearly) the end-user benefits obtained from the technology.
This study shows that introducing nanotechnology into a product has an almost uniquely additive contribution to attitude. The study aimed at relevant nanotechnology applications for food products, as opposed to general attitudes towards technologies. The study also confirms in an experimental setting earlier exploratory findings that food applications closer to the end user are less acceptable and provides a case for nanotechnology food innovations.
Steenis, N.D. and Fischer, A.R. (2016), "Consumer attitudes towards nanotechnology in food products: an attribute-based analysis", British Food Journal, Vol. 118 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2015-0330Download as .RIS
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