Exploring the Impact of Visual Perception and Taste Experience on Consumers’ Acceptance of Suboptimal Fresh Produce

Efrat Elimelech, Eyal Ert, Yael Parag, Guy Hochman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Consumers’ tendency to avoid purchasing cosmetically “suboptimal” fruits and vegetables has been widely recognized as a significant contributor to food waste. However, the mechanisms that shape and influence this tendency remain largely unknown. The current study evaluates the impact of visual perception and taste experience on willingness to purchase and quality perceptions of fresh produce, focusing on two types of suboptimality: small size and abnormal shape. The study employed a 3 × 2 between-subjects factorial design in which participants indicated their perceived quality and willingness to purchase suboptimal tomatoes and sweet peppers in three informational conditions: viewing the vegetable picture (no taste), view then taste (participants tasted a slice after viewing the vegetable picture), and taste then view. The results revealed that, as expected, the abnormally shaped vegetable was judged less favorably than the normal one. The small-sized vegetable was judged more favorably than the regular one, in contrast to the current size regulations applied by retailers. Tasting significantly increased people’s willingness to purchase the abnormally shaped produce, but had no effect on the willingness to purchase the abnormally sized produce, nor did it impact the perceived quality of the abnormal products. This study highlights consumer bias towards aesthetic qualities and suggests that direct taste experiences can alter perceptions towards accepting visually imperfect produce, thereby contributing to sustainability and food-waste reduction efforts.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2698
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.

Keywords

  • abnormal shape
  • quality perception
  • size
  • suboptimal produce
  • willingness to purchase

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