Date of Award

8-2010

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition

Advisor

Mary Ellen Camire

Second Committee Member

Alfred Bushway

Third Committee Member

Armand Cardello

Abstract

The potato is a common vegetable that is not only readily available and affordable, it is packed with many nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Recently, there has been a decline in fresh potato consumption. People are eating more frozen and processed products with added fat and salt. Food choice is a complex human behavior that is influenced by many factors including attitude, nutrition, mood and price. Investigating consumer attitudes is important in order to influence food choice. Conjoint analysis, a social marketing statistical model, was used to identify consumer attitudes toward specific characteristics of the potato. Panelists (n=200) responded to 25 concepts consisting of random combinations of statements from three categories: nutrient content, health claim and convenience. Panelists indicated their degree of interest in each concept using the nine-point interest scale. For each statement, a utility value was calculated. The utility value indicated the effect of the statement on consumer attitude. A statement with a positive utility value is motivating, whereas a statement with a negative utility value is discouraging. For the total panel, health claim statements were the most motivating. However, the utility values for statements differed based on demographic segment Understanding what motivates consumers is important to direct nutrition education and potato promotion efforts. Increasing potato consumption could stimulate the local economy, increase food security and decrease chronic disease-related morbidity and mortality.

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