Assessing Consumer Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Food Quality: The Case of Consumption of Tetra-Packed Fresh Milk in Sri Lanka
The objectives of this study are (i) to assess consumer perceptions on fresh milk that are stored in tetra-packs, and (ii) to determine the relationship between the perceptions and the socio-economic characteristics of the consumers. Using Caswell's four subsets of food quality (i.e. food safety, nutrition, value, and packaging) two indices, namely Mean Attribute Score (MAS) and a Food Quality Responsive Index (FQRI) were developed, which describe how important each of these four subsets and various attributes included in each subset for a consumer to be "loyal" with fresh milk in a tetra-pack instead of spending that part of money on close substitutes. A sample of 664 consumers were randomly selected and interviewed using a structured questionnaire at 10 different marketplaces in the Gampaha district in Sri Lanka from April to May in 2005. A subset of 100 consumers who consumes the product more frequently was considered for further analysis. Ordered Logistic Regression technique was used to estimate the coefficients of the model, to which five levels for the dependent variable was derived using the range of values of the FQRI. The results based on the MAS indicate that consumers tend to purchase tetra-pack considering the attributes included in value and package subsets mainly, including purity, appearance, size, convenience, and informational labeling etc. However, consumers did not believe that it enhances those attributes included in "food safety" and "nutritional" subsets. The statistical outcome shows that age, gender, level of education and income have a significant impact on this behavior. It suggests that the "market" can promote the consumption of fresh milk provided that a product complies with the safety and nutritional standards set by the "government".
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