Determinants of household choice of breakfast cereals: healthy or unhealthy?
We studied consumer demand for more and less healthy breakfast cereals. Using ACNielsen Homescan database and USDA food nutrition data, we developed three cereal nutrition indexes for each household in the data. In addition to the standard demographic characteristics of households and prices, we included variables representing differences between private labels and national brands. We found that the structure of the industry, through its effect on the product mix produced, affects consumer choice of nutritious foods. Some households buy fewer healthy cereals simply through reluctance to trust private labels. Among all factors expected to influence consumer purchases, the prices appear to have the strongest effect on the healthiness of the choice of breakfast cereals, which is a relatively inexpensive product. Households with children and teens buy less healthy cereals, while older and more educated households make healthier choices.
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